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22.12.2011 General News

Komfo Anokye frees 'detained' accident victims

By Ohemeng Tawiah | Nhyira FM-Kumasi
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Authorities at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital have freed 15 accident patients detained for non-payment of medical bills.

Their release follows an agreement between the hospital and patients to pay a total of over GHS1,600.

The relieved patients are among 18 victims of Tuesday's accident at Pakyi which left seven dead and several others injured.

They are eleven males and four females with the highest bill for an individual being GHS127.

Hospital officials say persistent failure of some patients to pay for services is a threat to quality health delivery.

Public Relations Officer, Kwame Frimpong, said the hospital has had to either waive bills or agree on payment plans for many on the advice of the Social Welfare Unit.

He said the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department as well as the Accident and Emergency Center are the hardest hit in terms of revenue loss.

Officials hope the patients will honour their promise and pay the bills as they visit the hospital for review. Failure will mean authorities will be compelled to declare it a bad-debt.

Komfo Anokye Hospital's Social Welfare Unit is often called upon to investigate the background of patients who genuinely cannot afford to pay.

“Based on recommendations, management will take a decision ...either the patient is so poor and cannot pay and that we have to waive the whole bill or that the patient can pay but he will need time; in that case we will let you bring a guarantor who will draw a repayment plan,” explained Mr. Frimpong.

But management of the hospital is seriously against the detention of patients for non-payment of bills especially in the face of some laid down measures.

"It is the policy of management that no patient should be detained. It is in the light of this that we have in place a procedure in taking care of such cases".

But the circumstances demand that patients are detained on bills. This often arises when officials of the Social Welfare Unit of the hospital do background to ascertain genuineness of patients who cannot pay bills.

“In implementing this policy, in most cases, it takes a day or two for Social Welfare people to do their background checks to submit a report and for management to take a decision. Until that decision is taken, the patient cannot go,” he explained.

According to Mr. Frimpong, though the hospital is not a profit-making venture, it cannot continue to provide services without recovering the cost of such services.

He assured that the hospital will continue to implement policies for sustained service delivery.

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