- NHS Protect will “cease to exist” from July and be replaced by NHS Counter Fraud Authority
- Memo confirms support and training for local organisations will no longer be available
- New organisation will employ 140 staff, which is around 20 fewer than the number employed by NHS Protect in March 2016
The body responsible for tackling fraud and other crime across the NHS is to be overhauled over the next three months, with budget cuts resulting in some of its services and roles being axed.
A memo seen by HSJ said NHS Protect will “cease to exist” from July as it will be replaced by the new NHS Counter Fraud Authority.
The memo confirms that support and training for local organisations will no longer be available. This was part of a plan revealed by HSJ last year.
NHS trusts typically employ a local counter fraud specialist, but until now they have also been offered support and training by 24 national officers.
In the plans drawn up last year, NHS Protect said the training programmes “had been successful” and “boards of local NHS organisations should now have the necessary knowledge and capacity to deal with the crime threats that they face”.
The new organisation will employ around 140 staff, a spokeswoman said, which is around 20 fewer than the number employed by NHS Protect in March 2016. HSJ has asked how many redundancies would be needed.
NHS Protect is one of the organisations that falls outside NHS England’s ringfenced budget, so is subject to cash terms cuts over the course of this parliament. Its budget was reduced from £10.4m in 2015-16 to £9.9m in 2016-17.
The memo, which was sent to trusts on Monday, said: “The role of NHS Protect is changing and work is underway to create a new special health authority to tackle fraud, bribery and corruption in the NHS and the wider health group.
“As you will be aware, the services provided by NHS Protect’s local support and development services team will cease on 31 March 2017. As a result, any communication with this team via the area anti-fraud specialist role will also cease on this date. The local support and development services team and the anti-fraud specialist role will no longer exist after 31 March.”
Instead, there will be “wide range of information and resources for local specialists and NHS organisations” available on a new extranet system.
NHS Protect carried out the high profile fraud investigation against Paula Vasco-Knight, a former trust chief executive and national lead for equality at NHS England.