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Welcome to the March edition of our WWL Blog

Collette Ryan

It gives me great pleasure to contribute to this edition of the WWL blog.  My name is Collette Ryan and I am the Local Anti-Fraud Specialist (LAFS) for Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) and Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.

As the Local Anti-Fraud Specialist I am committed to reducing fraud in the NHS to an absolute minimum and maintaining it at that level across both organisations. NHS Fraud is unacceptable and everyone has a role to play to ensure NHS funds are protected.

Fraud can be committed against individuals or organisations and is described as the intentional falsification of either financial statements or other records to gain a dishonest advantage. There are many words used to describe fraud: scam, con, extortion, hoax, double-cross but their results are all the same; a loss to the Trust or a gain to an individual.

Examples of frauds which may take place in the NHS are:

  • Working elsewhere whilst being off sick from the Trust
  • False travel claims/falsifying timesheets
  • Non-payment of NHS charges
  • Individuals providing false information to get a job – False qualifications

An important piece of supporting legislation to fraud is the Bribery Act 2010 (July 12011), which reforms the criminal law of bribery. Bribery is offering an incentive to someone to do something which they wouldn’t normally do. For example, if a manager, responsible for recruiting, is offered and accepts concert tickets by a candidate to ensure shortlisting for interview, this is an act of bribery.

Risk Areas

  • Due diligence - assessment of new business partners
  • Code of conduct – declaration of conflict of interests
  • Hospitality and Gifts Registers
  • Employee propriety checks
  • Employment contracts specify obligations in terms of the Act

We all know that the majority of people who work in and use the NHS are honest, but there are a minority who will seek to defraud its valuable resources, and there doesn’t seem to be any specific reason to it.

While we all know that committing fraud is wrong, it is sometimes difficult to know what to do, or who to tell, when we suspect that fraud is happening. That is where the Local Anti-Fraud Specialist (LAFS) steps in. Every NHS health body has its own Local Anti- Fraud Specialist (LAFS) who is responsible for overseeing its fraud-proofing measures, studying the financial comings and goings, looking for anything suspicious, raising awareness of the issues and investigating allegations of fraud.

The LAFS is responsible for the delivery of anti-fraud work at a local level. So, at WWL I am required to undertake a range of activities which include:

  • Developing an anti-fraud culture and raise awareness of the service identifying and implementing of ways to deter, prevent and detect fraud occurring in the Trust.
  • Undertaking fraud investigations from referrals or as the result of pro-active work within the Trust.
  • Providing advice on relevant sanctions such as legal proceedings or disciplinary proceedings against people committing fraud.
  • Helping WWL to seek repayment of money defrauded from it.

On a day-to-day basis, my work includes:

  • Developing and maintaining close working relationships with various colleagues throughout the Trust or health body undertaking fraud investigations and taking responsibility for the production of relevant reports for that investigation.
  • Delivering presentations and other counter fraud communications to a range of audiences, including staff and professional groups.
  • Ensuring all anti-fraud work is conducted in a professional, comprehensive and ethical manner, following the standards by NHS Protect for NHS Providers, the NHS Counter Fraud and Corruption Manual and any other guidance issued by the NHS Protect.

As a LAFS, I regularly deal with referrals from colleagues or concerned members of the public. But the work I carry out isn’t just about detecting fraud. It is also important that we prevent it from happening in the first place. To ensure this I carry out proactive exercises to see if there are any areas of the Trust which may be at risk of fraud.

Everyone can help to reduce the risk and occasions of fraud by reporting concerns or suspicions about fraud in Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.

These can be reported directly to me:

01257 256204 (Office)

I hope, through this blog, I have raised awareness around fraud and the role of the LAFS within WWL. If you would you like information on the anti-fraud initiative at the Trust please do not hesitate to contact me.



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