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NHS fraud squad target minorities

6th July 2011

New figures have suggested that black members of NHS staff are being targeted by NHS anti-fraud investigators.

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More than 13 times more black people than would be proportionate have been charged with offences by NHS Protect, which is responsible for cutting fraud in the health service.

The figures were released to Nursing Times under the Freedom of Information Act and suggest that immigration cases are prioritised above harder-to-investigate offences.

While black people make up 5% of NHS staff, 66 of the 98 people prosecuted in the year were recorded as African Caribbean.

The NHS Information Centre data also showed that 57% of investigations launched by NHS Protect between April 2010 and March 2011 involved black and minority ethnic (BME) people, while BME groups make up only 16% of NHS employees.

Transitional lead for the NHS BME Network Dr Vivienne Lyfar-Cissé said it was extremely worrying that fraud by non-BME staff may be overlooked “giving rise to the disproportionality observed”.

Don Flynn, director of the Migrant Rights Network, said it seemed NHS Protect was “targeting largely black and ethnic minority staff” as they were “low hanging fruit”.

The Royal College of Nursing England said it was concerned by the figures.

An NHS Protect spokesman said the organisation’s focus was investigation and collection of evidence relating to allegations of fraud or corruption, and not a person’s ethnicity.

“Before 2010/11 the collection of ethnicity information was not mandatory. However, since the introduction of a new case management system, NHS Protect has been able to collect it more easily and accurately,” he said.

 

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