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30 January 2017

Group Decries ‘Cash And Carry’ At Tamale Teaching Hospital

Management of the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) have been issued with a 24-hour ultimatum to reverse the cash and carry system of rendering medical services or incur the wrath of an aggrieved group calling itself Coalition for Change In Government Institutions.

In a release issued and signed by its convener Mohammed Issah, he said “There is therefore the urgent need for all stakeholders to stand up for the several millions of people these incompetent hospital managers are taking into the abyss. Chiefs, politicians from all political parties, market women, civil society organizations, the clergy, Imams, and even the staff of this facility must join the crusade to return some sanity to our cherished Hospital. We must wake up today or we perish in our supposed health facility tomorrow”.

Read Full Text of Release Below

As a referral center for the upper east and northern regions, the Tamale Teaching Hospital has suffered a lot of injustices against both employees and clients who visit the facility. This unfortunate situation was engineered by the leadership of Dr. Akanbong Prosper. As a facility, the hospital is located in one of the poorest regions in the country, whiles serving almost all the 3 poorest regions. On this back drop, management of the facility is expected to serve its clients with outmost modesty and subsidize services as much as possible. Much so when the country is running a deliberate pro poor policy to ensure the health of its citizens is guaranteed, thus National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

On the contrary, the current leadership of the facility have constituted themselves into a profit-searching brigade, syphoning the last cedi they find from their clients. The facility has metamorphosed into a super normal profit-making institution. The board and management have approved almost everything and anything Dr. Akanbong has pushed through as a Chief Executive Officer – (C.E.O).

They appear to have forgotten the jurisdiction they are operating from. They operate as selfish managers who are only interested in perhaps the proceeds of the seeming loot that is being carried out. Permit me to put through a few of the nauseating policies these caricature of leaders have implemented over the years.

For about 3 years, Anaesthetic assessment has ranged from within 11.00 cedis to 25.00 per patient. This amount was and is still being paid by ALL patients regardless your status as an NHIS card holder. It is interesting to note that, not all patients who go through Anaesthetic assessment go through surgical operation. The reason for these charges as explained, was to remunerate anesthetist in the facility. But as we speak, and from reliable sources within, not a single anesthetist has received a cedi for such services rendered.

Another area of prominence is the laboratory diagnostic department. After the unsuccessfully desperate attempts to “sell” off the laboratory to a private company, the C.E.O has pushed through the back door unreasonable tariffs in the name of sustaining the laboratory. For instance, all laboratory investigations requested for, from the Out-Patients Department must be paid for regardless your status as an NHIS card bearer. You either pay cash or you have your prescribed request not done.

A basic and important Laboratory diagnosis, Full Blood Count, for almost every patient is paid for by all clients. Not even in-patients are exempted from these tariffs. You either pay, or you die on the hospital bed. Also, Laboratory investigations that are duly covered by the NHIS are henceforth cash and carry as communicated through a recent memo.

The last straw that appears to have broken the camel’s back is the recent memo on the sale of selected Non-Drug consumables that took effect on the 16th of this month. This memo seeks to direct patient to purchase almost everything for their treatment at the special pharmacy and the CSSD. The memo makes no exemption for NHIS card bearers. The inference therefore is that, all patients except in emergency cases must go through this process.

For the avoidance of doubt, the C.E.O and his cabal must be told the hospital is not a profit making organizing and should never be seen as such. It must at best breakeven. This is a deliberate attempt to implement a full-cost recovery on medical services in the facility. It obviously makes useless the bundle tariff system the NHIS is running with the facility. It further infers a looter policy where clients will, and justifiably so may just be paying twice for the same service they require.

A scenario of a health insured client who comes for a planned surgical removal of an appendix (Appendectomy) comes to mind. This client is supposed to benefit from a tariff bundle for Laparotomy. From the memo in question, this client must pay cash for almost everything for the procedure before he/she is taken through the surgery.

The person actually pays more than 100% and in some instances pays up to 5 times more than the original price of the item on the “open market”. It also means that, shortage of any consumable in the middle of a surgical procedure would require a pause for the client and his relatives to buy the item before the procedure to continue. In the case of obstetrics and gynecology, patients are expected to pay for even a normal delivery.

Ghanaians are very much aware of the obvious challenges in the delivery of care and the NHIS. This should however not call for such draconian measures that would obviously jeopardize the health of the people in the north. It must not be an avenue for looting unsuspecting clients.

For any reasonable and capable manager or service provider, prospective clients should have been communicated to, at least a month before implementing such a demonstrably unreasonable policy. Much so in a poverty dominated populace like ours. Such greed must not be demonstrated by a management that is largely made of same northerners from our homes. Our status financially should have been considered.

There is therefore the urgent need for all stakeholders to stand up for the several millions of people these incompetent hospital managers are taking into the abyss. Chiefs, politicians from all political parties, market women, civil society organizations, the clergy, Imams, and even the staff of this facility must join the crusade to return some sanity to our cherished Hospital. We must wake up today or we perish in our supposed health facility tomorrow.

The management of the hospital are by this statement given an ultimatum of 24 hours to withdraw this lazy policy or face the wrath of this group in the coming days. We sending a clear signal to the newly sworn in government, that we were promised CHANGE, so we shall not allow the current perceived corrupt and palpably incompetent management to toil with the health of the people in the north

 

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