Prescription exemptions are to be digitised and data sharing increased in an effort to cut fraud against the NHS.
The Department for Health and Social Care has announced the moves as part of a commitment to reduce prescription fraud, currently estimated at £256 million a year, by half.
It said the digitisation of prescription exemptions will enable pharmacies to check whether the patient does not have to pay a charge before their medication is dispensed. This will be piloted next year, before being rolled out across the NHS.
The move will be accompanied by an increase in collaboration and data sharing between the NHS Business Services Authority and the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA), aimed at identifying the small number of pharmacists and dentists claiming payments for services they have not carried out.
A new partnership is also being formed between NHSCFA and the fraud prevention service Cifas, allowing NHS counter-fraud professionals to access Cifas data.
The steps align with the announcement of the introduction of a new counter-fraud profession in central government, bringing together around 10,000 counter-fraud specialists, including 400 focused on fraud in the NHS.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The new technology and analysis, combined with intel and experience of counter-fraud specialists will form the starting point of this new fight against NHS fraudsters.”
Sue Frith, interim chief executive officer of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, said: “The more datasets we are able to access from partners such as Cifas and the NHS Business Services Authority, the more fraud we can detect and prevent. NHSCFA are actively engaging with the fintech sector to identify technological solutions that could enhance data examination and exploitation capability.”
Image from iStock, Gunay Mutlu