Belfast Telegraph

Whistleblowers must not be scapegoated, John Dallat warns Health Minister Edwin Poots

By Michael McHugh

Health Minister Edwin Poots needs to demonstrate that the days of cover-up on fraud are over, it has been claimed.

Senior Fire Service employee Linda Ford – who was suspended and then relocated for raising concerns about financial irregularities within the organisation, which is overseen by the Department of Health and the Audit Office – has said her treatment could discourage other whistle-blowers.

A 350% increase in whistle-blowing cases last year was attributed to an increased presence of the fraud awareness team at key health service locations and online reporting, a report from the department said today.

Mr Poots has called on everybody to report suspected fraud after launching a major campaign.

But SDLP MLA John Dallat told Stormont: "While Linda Ford was eventually allowed back, initially she was not given her original job but was treated as someone who did something wrong.

"Until the minister demonstrates clearly that the days of cover-ups are over then his calls for help will ring hollow."

Fraud by NHS staff like falsely claiming mileage or hourly payment by nurses, suspected malpractice by doctors or dentists or misrepresentation by users of the health service was outlined in a new report from the department.

Mr Poots said: "Fraud is not a faceless crime, especially in the health service, it affects everyone. It is therefore everyone's duty to report fraud or suspected fraud."

Belfast Telegraph


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