Back in June 2021, we ran a post titled:
Part 1: Overpayment of millions by KCC domiciliary service users due to call clipping ancedotal evidence suggests
In July the Kent County Council Internal Audit Annual Report 2020-21, presented to the Governance & Audit committee on the 22 July 2021, made it clear that Adult Social Care Billing had received a limited assurance by their internal audit team. That said the report makes it very clear there were known billing issues as early as January 2021. This billing includes billing for Domiciliary Care
KCCs definition of limited assurance is:
Adequate controls are not in place to meet all the system/service objectives and/or controls are not being consistently applied. Certain weaknesses require immediate management attention as if unresolved they may result in system/service objectives not being achieved.
So our June post about overcharging happening – drawn from anecdotal evidence provided by the good people of Kent – was correct. The issue of overcharging/billing clients of adult social care services was known about as early as Jan 2021, according to committee papers released by KCC.
Also we estimate from the evidence we’ve seen, clients who received adult social care in 2020/21 have been overcharged by up to £7 million potentially. This equates to 20% or £1 in every five pounds, of the overall invoiced amount in 2020/21.
One must remember KCC just send out the bills they receive from the care provider, they are nothing more than a conduit. They are not the organization committing any overcharging.
In August 2021 we published a blog post making it clear that dead people had been invoiced for domiciliary care which is Adult Social Care.
KCC provide Adult Social Care services for more than 18,000 clients.
It is known that KCC have only undertaken a deep look at one particular company, what they called a “fraudit” and are now currently undertaking a further deep dive into two other care providers in the list above. With a counter fraud team of just five, KCC – a £2.8 billion pound organisation – cannot look at everything, as such this potentially allows overcharging to slip through the net unnoticed.
Now for the first time we can name one of the 33 companies who have overcharged. They are Meritum Integrated Care LLP.
The word Meritum means to aspire to be better , to be kind, to value.
In 2019/20 and 2020/21 Meritum Integrated Care invoiced clients via KCC the sum of £5,296,365.
We can say with 100% certainty, some of the £5.2m paid to Meritum was and has been money raised via incorrect invoices sent to clients via KCC.
With evidence provided to us by residents of Ashford, Folkestone and Maidstone, we can confidently say this is not a singular incident. We can prove beyond all reasonable doubt, Meritum billed clients who were no longer receiving care at home, as they had moved into care homes. Also they invoiced when clients attended hospital appointments. Now if you are not at home how can somebody come into your home and provide you with care?
What is even more amazing, is carers working for Meritum sign into each client by scanning a unique QR code (pictured), via a mobile phone on the way in, and on the way out of the premises. So how were these QR codes scanned, as Meritum carers could NOT have come through the front door to scan them because nobody was home to let them in?
There are those we have spoken to in the audit world that believe that such behaviour would unequivocally meet the threshold of fraud under s2 and s4 of the Fraud Act 2006.
Clients and families of Meritum have informed us they have contacted the police regarding these continuing practices.
Furthermore, we understand that KCC have stated they will undertake a full data protection audit of Meritum’s systems, as there was major failings around GDPR and Data protection issues.
Of course, we approached Meritum for a comment on their overcharging of clients they serve.
Mr Andrew Saunders (pictured) a designated member of Meritum Integrated Care LLP responded for and on behalf of Meritum by stating:
We supply the hours we do and the dates that care is delivered. Our visits are also digitally recorded from the beginning of the call to the end of the call…
I am very concerned that you say “there are large number of individuals” who consider that we have committed fraud. Also that “in many cases this is supported by factual evidence.”
This is a very serious allegation indeed and I suggest you and your client have a civil duty to report this criminal activity to the police at once so it can be fully investigated. In turn we will do every thing we can to support this investigation. I will send a copy of our email correspondence to the police department so they can be aware of any reports you may be sending to them.
As many of you will be aware adult social care has been in the news this week. The Government will raise National Insurance Contributions to help pay for adult social care.
We believe if people are to have faith in the system of adult social care billing, then all invoices ought to be itemized, just like you car repair bill is, or your shopping bill. As Mr Saunders makes clear “We supply the hours we do and the dates that care is delivered.”. This is a bare minimum, and to avoid any confusion every task completed ought to be itemized within the bill, as well as the time arrived and the time departed. This would enable clients and their families to know what care was received and what exactly they were billed for. This would reduce the chances/opportunities to overcharge clients.
Finally, we call for mandatory itemised billing and for all clients to receive a copy of the contract. This would go some way as to ensure all parties know exactly what care they will receive from the care provider, how long the care lasted and what care was given. This would help prevent clients from being ripped off any more than they already have been, according to KCCs Internal Audit Annual Report 2020-21.
The Shepway Vox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful