By Claire West

UNISON, the UK’s leading public sector trade union, is today warning that job cuts in the NHS Counter Fraud Service (CFSMS) could leave the health service exposed to fraud, wasting valuable public money that should be going into patient care.

The union is calling on the Department of Health and the Health Secretary to go back to the drawing board. With widespread changes about to hit the health service, fraud investigators are needed now more than ever before, says UNISON.

Peter Chapman UNISON Regional Organiser for the Counter Fraud Service CFSMS, said:

“These cuts will expose the NHS to fraud, and, ultimately, that will hit patient care. These proposals have not been properly thought through, and there is no clear business case. Nor do they in any way take into account the dangers faced from the massive restructuring of the NHS currently proposed. This will devolve the bulk of the NHS budget to clinicians, who are neither financially trained nor fraud aware, and could turn the NHS into a soft target for fraud.”

Pat Dacey UNISON CFSMS Branch Chair said:

“UNISON members employed as investigators are highly skilled and do an essential job for the NHS. In 2009/10 alone the Counter Fraud Service saved the NHS more than £10 million and successfully prosecuted 65 fraudsters.”

Liz Wood UNISON CFSMS Branch Secretary said:

“Successful prosecutions such as the recent case of the prison dentist found guilty of defrauding the NHS of over £300,000 could well become things of the past if regional investigators are made redundant.”