Five current or former directors of NHS organisations are being investigated by the national NHS fraud agency, it has emerged.
The NHS Counter Fraud Authority said in information released to Parliament that in November, when it was established, five NHS directors, one doctor, 23 “other medical professionals” and 12 “other NHS staff” were under investigation for fraud.
It is not known how many of the individuals still work in the NHS nor, in relation to the directors, the mix of executives and non-executives.The authority confirmed to HSJ this week that five NHS directors remain under investigation.
However, the five are understood to include Phil Morley, former chief executive of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust and Princess Alexandra Trust, whose investigation began more than three years ago; and Sir Leonard Fenwick, the former Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust chief.
The investigations were all categorised by the authority under the heading “fraud”.
The authority succeeded NHS Protect as the body responsible for investigating NHS fraud in November.
Richard Rippin, its head of operations, told HSJ the numbers demonstrated it was “determined to fully investigate allegations of serious and complex fraud against NHS funds”.
“This is regardless of the suspected individual’s role, location or status. NHS funds are there to meet the healthcare needs of everyone, not to be diverted for personal gain,” Mr Rippin added.
The statistics were released by health minster Caroline Dinenage this month, who was responding to a question from Diana Johnson, the Labour MP for Hull North.
Concerns were raised about Mr Morley in relation to his time at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals, which he left in spring 2014. It was previously confirmed that NHS Protect began its investigation in February 2015, and as of February last year it was ongoing. Mr Morley has previously rejected the allegations made against him.
The Newcastle trust said last year it had reported concerns in relation to Sir Leonard to NHS Protect. Sir Leonard, who was sacked for gross misconduct following disciplinary hearings, declined to comment to HSJ but has also previously challenged the allegations about him.
The NHS Counter Fraud Authority said it could not comment on the cases.
Ms Johnson told HSJ she would continue to ask questions about the length of time taken to resolve investigations.
In 2015, she called on the government to “look again at the processes in place for ensuring that senior hospital managers and trust directors meet the standards necessary to ensure good quality care and, in particular, guarantee the independence of reviews into the conduct of these staff”.
The government announced a review of the fit and proper person test for trust directors earlier this year.