Fraud investigation at South London Healthcare Trust over private surgery

PUBLISHED: 17:41 10 July 2012

A counter-fraud investigation at bankrupt South London Healthcare Trust found there were “clear breaches” in the awarding of a contract for private surgical work.

The Trust began using private provider Rapid Surgical Solutions in May 2010 because it was not meeting 18-week targets in the orthopaedic department for referral to treatment.

There were concerns that Trust surgeons were working for Rapid Surgical Solutions, therefore “being rewarded” for not meeting their targets in the public sector but being paid to carry out the work for the Trust privately.

The report states: “Part of the Rapid Surgical Solutions contract is a promise that non-Trust consultants will be used to carry out orthopaedic work. This has not been verified by the local counter fraud specialist.”

Responding to an open question at a Trust board meeting on May 26 2010, the hospital board also stated it “did not intend to use private providers”.

But the contract for Rapid Surgical Solutions was signed the same day, by former finance director Tim Bolot.

The counter-fraud squad was unable to establish who made the decision to award the contract to the company.

A conclusion states the Trust “breached Standing Financial Instructions” in awarding the contracts to Rapid Surgical Solutions but that “no dishonesty” was proven and therefore “no element of fraudulent activity has been found”.

A Trust spokesperson said: “No evidence of fraud was found by any member of staff. However, some internal processes were not followed in the awarding of the contract.

“This was dealt with at the time and these failures in process were corrected. There were no breaches of any criminal or European laws. The contract was used to reduce waiting times during a period of considerable pressure.”

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