NHS bosses must do more to combat medical fraud that costs taxpayers up to £1.2billion a year, the Health Secretary has demanded.
Stephen Barclay claims NHS England hasn't done enough to stop crooks stealing money that should go to improve care.
In a letter to chief executive Amanda Pritchard – seen by the Daily Mail – he calls on officials to introduce measures that make it more difficult for fraudsters to succeed.
He adds: 'A concerted and coordinated effort will be required to drive down fraud loss.'
Health Secretary Stephen Barclay (pictured in 2020, when he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury) claims NHS England hasn't done enough to stop crooks stealing money that should go to improve care
The NHS loses an estimated £320million a year due to fraud in primary care, which includes GPs, opticians, dentists and pharmacies.
This may be due to staff claiming money for treatment they have not performed or patients claiming free care they are not entitled to.
A further £336million a year is lost due to fraud in procurement and commissioning of goods and services, predominantly in hospitals.
The letter says: 'Public sector fraud damages trust in Government, compromises services and is recognised as a national security threat.
The NHS loses an estimated £320million a year due to fraud in primary care, which includes GPs, opticians, dentists and pharmacies. Picture: file image
'An appropriately resourced response will achieve measurable outcomes greater than its cost.'
A Department of Health source said last night: 'The NHS must do more to identify areas vulnerable to fraud and help root out staff and patients who line their pockets by abusing the system.'
An NHS England spokesman said it takes public sector fraud 'extremely seriously, and does everything it can to protect public money'.