Health authorities are making 'substantial progress' in beating contractor fraud, according to a survey by the Health- care Financial Management Association.

But the survey, released yesterday, says 'there is still evidence of weakness' in arrangements for preventing, detecting and investigating fraud and corruption.

'Specifically, there needs to be much greater investment in the training of managers and auditors on fraud investigation,' said John Flook, chair of HFMA's corporate governance and audit

committee.

He also called for a 'fundamental review' of counter-fraud measures for dental services, and for all HAs to draw up fraud management plans.

The survey secured responses from 74 HAs. It found they were conducting 163 fraud investigations, involving an estimated 8.2m. Extrapolating the figures gives a total value for fraud in the NHS of 13.7m.

A similar survey of 82 HAs last year found they were investigating 96 cases of suspected contractor fraud, involving about 3.7m.

Mr Flook said this indicated HAs were detecting more fraud and 'taking the issue more seriously'.

This year's survey also found general ophthalmic payments, pharmaceutical dispensing and GP item-of-service accounts account for two-thirds of all fraud.

The average value of general dental and ophthalmic frauds exceeded 100,000.