NHS bodies in Scotland will be encouraged to appoint 'counter-fraud champions' in a bid to stop money being illegally siphoned from the health service.

The move is part of a "zero tolerance" strategy launched by the Scottish government this week.

NHS managers and staff will be trained in fraud awareness under the plan led by NHS Scotland Counter Fraud Services.

It is estimated up to 1 per cent of the Scottish NHS budget (£50-£100m a year) could be lost annually through fraud, including nurses and doctors claiming payments for private work done in NHS time.

Counter-fraud champions will be senior executives or non-executives who will work with fraud specialists. There will be series of pilots, with fraud investigators offering advice and training at some trusts.

In England and Wales, trust finance directors are already expected to lead on counter fraud measures and work with local specialists. A spokesman for the NHS Counter Fraud Service said: "That ensures there's a person with responsibility at board level."