8 Aug 2009

Health board sets up anti-fraud hotline

2:18 pm on 8 August 2009

Waikato District Health Board has introduced a phone hotline to try to stamp out fraud within the health service.

Investigations in the past two years have uncovered fraud and theft worth nearly $400,000, the health board says.

Examples range from an employee stealing food to a nurse taking abusable drugs and unauthorised use of a petrol card. In the worst case, an electrical contractor falsified invoices to conceal $150,000 of overcharges during an 18-month period.

The health board says the confidential phone line is available for staff, patients and members of the public to report any suspicions they may have.

The Nurses Organisation is disappointed at the way the DHB has released a list of workers caught stealing, as it will make all staff feel targetted.

Chief executive Geoff Annals says while the union doesn't condone theft or fraud, the announcement of the hotline will offend and anger staff, who are effectively being represented as petty criminals.

The board's internal audit manager Ian Cowley says it's been aware of more fraud in the past year and this may be due to people facing harder economic times.

He says the phone line is another tool to stamp out fraud, along with an existing anti-fraud programme designed to take opportunity and temptation away from anyone "on the edge of misappropriating."

Mr Cowley says the vast majority of the DHB's staff are honest and trustworthy.