UCL Procurement Partners – Update on NHS Fraud Investigation

Just keeping our readers up to date at the start of a New Year … You may remember the news about a senior member of staff (unnamed) being dismissed from UCL Procurement Partners (UCLPP) in January of last year. That is a shared services operation that handles procurement for 5 London Hospital Trusts - Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, Moorfields Eye Hospital, North Middlesex University Hospital, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and Whittington Hospital NHS Trust.

We explained here that Alan Farnsworth, who was the Head of Procurement for the venture, had certainly gone from the UCLPP website, as had external consultant Lucy Hutchins who had also been previously listed as working in the organisation. Both of those individuals were also directors of a firm called Procurement Benefits Ltd, which was closed down in 2015.  We asked Whittington, which hosts the operation, for further information, but they were not prepared to say anything.

We then submitted some Freedom of Information questions back in May 2016 and were told that the “case is subject to an ongoing investigation” so they would not tell us anything. Six months on, we thought it was worth another try, so we asked again. Here’s the result.

Thank you for your request for information relating to to the dismissal of a senior member of staff from the UCL Procurement Partners Service. This was received on 28 November 2016 and has been dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We are unable to provide you with the information you have requested as the case is still subject to an ongoing investigation carried out by NHS Protect”.

So the investigation into potential fraud has been going on for a year (assuming Whittington Trust are telling me the truth). I guess some such cases are complex and do take time, but you might have thought a year was long enough here; it is not exactly some huge corporate Cayman Islands money laundering case (as far as we know). But we’ll keep our eyes and ears open, and do let us know if you know anything we don’t about this or indeed any other “interesting” procurement stories!

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