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Fraud costs health service €18 million… in just one month

A shocking new case of health service fraud has been detected – despite the clear warnings high-profile prosecutions like Consulta Vicentina and Remédio Santo should have given sharp operators.

In this latest case, eight doctors and one pharmacist are under investigation, reports national tabloid Correio da Manhã.

Their alleged scam(s) have “damaged the SNS health service” to the tune of €18 million, says the paper – and that is just the figures totted up for last month (December 2015).

According to data seen by CM, nine doctors and six pharmacists were put under fraud-squad scrutiny which involved 56 inspections of premises around the country. Sixteen of these were classified as routine, the rest were prompted by suspicions of fraud.

As a result of the probes, eight doctors and one pharmacist are facing further investigation, while new systems of control are being put into place.

Negócios online suggests the fraud centres on prescribing medication subsidised by the State and the subsequent billing by pharmacies.

A health ministry report last year showed that health service fraud has caused €350 million worth of damages since 2012. In other words, in spite of the austerity-powered crackdown on fraud said to be in place.

Major trials, like that of Remédio Santo, saw defendants condemned to as much as nine years behind bars, while judgement on Consulta Vicentina – in which the 12 defendants are said to have defrauded the SNS of a million euros – has yet to come.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com