Counter Fraud Services (CFS) investigating illegal claims for treatment saved £7.4m last year by tightening the grip on health service frauds.
The frauds ranged from patients lying to get free medication to dentists failing to put enough gold in patients' fillings. A pharmacist involved in the theft of prescriptions, which netted him £120,000 in payments, was also forced to repay the cash and was given 240 hours community service by a court. He was also banned from practicing in the UK. The crackdown also identified a doctor who invented patients and produced false claims.
CFS, which was launched six years ago to tackle the problem of fraud in health services, has been able to cut the annual cost of patient fraud by 25%. Measures like random checks on patients who claim they are entitled to free prescriptions, encouraging pharmacists to seek proof of entitlements and publicity campaigns aimed at deterring abuse have all helped CFS in tackling this problem.
CFS has been able to save about £18m in the six years since its inception, and praising the efforts of CFS Deputy Health Minister Lewis Macdonald said: "This is money that has gone into frontline patient care rather than being lost to fraud." He also added that the action would continue and stressed: "A major focus of CFS activities is the prevention and deterrence of fraud against the NHS in Scotland. We will continue to take action against fraudsters, but everyone can make a difference."
The head of CFS, Neil Billing, said: "The principal emphasis this year has been on a pro-active approach to deterring fraud and raising awareness of the issue within the service and beyond."