HFMA attacks NHS White Paper and warns of fraud outbreak

Labour’s changes to the NHS could lead to job cuts for accountants and an out-break of fraud, warned the healthcare financial management association (HFMA) this week.

HFMA chairman Bob Dredge said he was ‘generally speaking, in favour of the changes outlined in the White Paper’. But he said that accountants could end up seeking other jobs at a time when their ‘efforts would be needed to ensure a smooth changeover’ to the primary care system.

According to HFMA estimates, there are 3,300 accountants in the NHS and another 16,000 employees in payroll and finance departments. Although Dredge was unwilling to put a figure on the number of redundancies, he said he would expect a large share of the government’s promised #1bn savings to come from ‘management cuts at the district health authorities’.

He also pointed out that there are ‘some serious probity issues in primary care’. The Department of Health has admitted that around #100m a year is being lost in the primary care sector, and yet the people in charge of primary care are going to be given bigger budgets and more responsibility.

‘These people will have #40m budgets, and will be able to put work into their own pockets,’ said Dredge. ‘We need to know how they are going to be made properly accountable,’ he added.

The NHS Executive is currently recruiting a ‘fraud supremo’ to try to tackle the problem in the primary care sector. ‘It’s a nice job for someone,’ said Dredge, ‘but we also need a system that reduces the potential for fraud.’

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