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The Government is phasing out training and other work by NHS Protect, the National Health’s central security management and counter-fraud body. This comes after a review of its functions and services since November 2014.
In the jargon of the NHS, NHS Protect’s service delivery model will change from ‘direct operational support’ to standard setting, bench marking and assurance.
The review decided that the main responsibility for anti-crime work (covering fraud and non-economic crime such as assaults) should remain with the boards of local NHS bodies. As background, NHS Protect – lately part of the NHS Business Services Authority, which includes such services as prescriptions and pensions – dates from 2011. It began in 1998, as solely a counter-fraud service, set up by Jim Gee, the counter-fraud specialist now Head of Forensic and Counter Fraud Services at the accountancy firm PKF, and then in 2003 became the Counter-Fraud and Security Management Service. All along, the actual counter-fraud and security work at hospitals and the like has been by local ‘specialists’ who are accredited through the central body. Such support work by NHS Protect, while described by the review as successful, will no longer be provided by the central body; local NHS bodies should now have the necessary knowledge and capacity to deal with the crime threats they face, it is claimed.
On the one hand, the central body has done such work as sign memorandums of understanding, such as with the Crown Prosecution Service in 2008 for effective prosecution of cases involving violence and abuse against NHS staff. In fraud cases, the central body’s regional staff took on the more complex cases, arguing that it delivered value for money in monies recovered. Critics of the central body have queried how helpful it is; and whether it drew on the day to day experience of hospital security managers.
According to the review, there remains a need for what they term ‘a single expert intelligence-led organisation’ for investigations into complex crimes, for example; and to define anti-crime standards and assess performance. The trimming of NHS Protect will happen this year and next; the review did not detail how many staff will remain or where.