Like a scam …. NATION

Like a scam

•Was National Hospital, Abuja, hoaxing or merely horsing around when it booked a surgery it could not perform?

It ought to be the number one public hospital in Nigeria. Situated right in the heart of the Federal Capital Territory, the National Hospital, Abuja (NHA) which began operation about 16 years ago, is a specialist facility that boasts some of the best medical professionals — Nigerians and expatriates.

According to the hospital’s website: “Our strength lies in the use of state-of-the-art technology in a clean, conducive and patient-friendly environment, using highly skilled and motivated staff who see their employment here more as a vocation than a bread basket.”

It is on account of the foregoing that we are taken aback by a recent report in a national newspaper in which a housewife accused the NHA of an action that could pass for a scam.

In the report, one Mrs. Stella Adepegba had accused the NHA of charging her the sum of N50,000 for a surgery procedure it had no immediate capacity to carry out. According to Mrs. Adepegba, she had visited the hospital in May and after many weeks of evaluation she had been slated for hysteroscopy procedure on June 25, 2015. On this day, she was made to pay the fee and thereafter, wheeled into the theatre for the operation.

However, after waiting in the theatre for hours without any sign that the procedure would begin, it took a technician who happened by to inform her that the hysteroscopy machine had been dysfunctional for over two years and was yet to be repaired as far as he knew. The technician was indeed bemused that she was billed for the procedure in the first place.

He further revealed to her that another patient had paid for the same treatment two years earlier and had been parading the hospital for so long. In fact, she was made to visit every month to find out whether the machine had been repaired. Up till last June, she neither got treated nor was a refund made.

In like manner, Mrs. Adepegba who said she was shocked by the ‘treatment’ she received at a premium national health facility like the NHA, requested for a refund since June 29. But as at last week, she was yet to get a positive response; instead, she was being given the run-around.

“Since I submitted the letter (June 29), the National Hospital, Abuja, has refused to refund the money. My husband… went to their finance department, and they said they could not find the letter again. He also made a written complaint to the Chief Medical Director, but the money has not been refunded till date. This made me to conclude that the hospital has been scamming Nigerians by collecting money for medical procedures it lacked the capacity to do”, Adepegba lamented.

‘We aver that it is not enough to merely make a refund to the patient/victim, if indeed her story were true. The NHA is a major national institution and a medical one at that where matters concern life and death. The hospital’s management must investigate this issue thoroughly and ascertain whether there are other cases in other departments’

Not even the communications unit of the hospital has a plausible response to the allegations above. The unit merely acknowledged awareness of the matter and noted further that, “the finance department has been directed to fast-track the refund of Adepegba’s money.”

We aver that it is not enough to merely make a refund to the patient/victim, if indeed her story were true. The NHA is a major national institution and a medical one at that where matters concern life and death. The hospital’s management must investigate this issue thoroughly and ascertain whether there are other cases in other departments. It must make full and proper restitution. Beyond, that, it must also ensure that patients who have been denied medical attention as a result of this seeming official chicanery are availed due medical attention.

NHA management must take into cognizance the fact that it may be held culpable, should the medical conditions of these diagnosed but mismanaged patients go awry. They will not stand exonerated until the now-delayed proposed procedures have been successfully carried out.

Finally, the NHA would need to straighten its processes; it would need to manage its dented image and reclaim its face over this matter, wouldn’t it?