The number ‘£111 million’ is listed under ‘realistic probability’. Photo: iStock

NHS England could be losing an estimated £111 million annually to pharmaceutical service frauds, according to a recent report.

The report, titled Tackling Fraud, Bribery and Corruption: Economic Crime Strategy, lists pharmacy-related frauds accounting for almost 9 per cent of the £1.9 billion total estimated costs to NHS.

The number ‘£111 million’ is listed under ‘realistic probability’, but the report says the priority of future actions is high in all the cases.

Claiming for prescriptions not dispensed, services not performed, larger pack sizes, inflated drug costs, excessive handling charges and contract balancing are some of the examples of pharmaceutical contractor fraud.

In June, the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHS CFA) announced pharmacy as the main priority area in its action plan for 2019-20.

The latest report finds that combined estimated losses in primary care as 58 per cent of the total estimated loss for the NHS.

“There are considerable gaps in intelligence with reference to fraud risks in primary care areas, a significant proportion of current work and future priorities, therefore, relate to primary care,” the report read.

According to the document, NHS CFA identified patient exemption fraud as the NHS area with greatest estimated loss – £341.7 million annually.

The NHS says it is committed in the recovery of funds lost to fraudulent or inappropriate behaviour and will ensure sanctions are appropriately applied to tho those who have committed fraud or been involved in inappropriate activities.

The organisation also recognises the need for a more collaborative approach to effectively tackle the risks posed to patient care by economic crime.

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