NHS England’s “economic crime strategy” document – published on September 13 – uses the NHS Counter Fraud Authority’s (NHS CFA) estimate that pharmacy fraud alone cost the NHS £111 million in 2016-17 to justify its crackdown on “large-scale scams” across the health service.
However, AIMp chief executive Leyla Hannbeck told C+D that the report “lacks evidence and is not supported by actual instances” of contractor fraud.
Read C+D's exclusive revelation that only one pharmacy owner has been sanctioned for committing fraud in two years, further undermining government claims about the scale of the issue.
Ms Hannbeck said: “Any form of fraud against the NHS, no matter what professional background, is unacceptable.”
However, pharmacy’s dedication to the NHS and patient care deserves “more positive attention”.
“[Pharmacy teams] go above and beyond on a daily basis delivering great care for their patients,” she added.
Alongside this, “community pharmacy teams are taking part and dedicating significant time [to] monitoring patient exemptions supporting the NHS”, Ms Hannbeck continued.
Alleged examples of pharmacy fraud
According to NHS England, specific examples of contractor fraud include: claiming for prescriptions not dispensed; claiming for services not performed; and inflated drugs costs.
“A number of analytics reviews” have been undertaken to combat pharmacy owner fraud and pharmacies are being supported “to improve their processes and reduce errors”, the commissioning body claimed.
The NHS England document also claims general practice fraud accounts for £88m a year, while dental fraud accounts for £126.1m.
Read lawyer David Reissner’s view on why the £111m pharmacy contractor fraud figure is bogus.