Fraud in AKTH as patients decry concession of payment system
Management of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) has launched investigation into allegations of theft and fraud in the hospital. Some members of the hospital staff suspected to have been involved in the financial misappropriation are currently undergoing internal disciplinary action pending the outcome of the probe.
Revenue running into millions of naira generated from medical services are said to have been missing in the hospital, a development which compelled the management to concession payment system in the hospital.
An internal memo obtained in the hospital indicated that effective from January 13, 2021, all pay points were to collect payment through Point Of Sales (POS), signalling adoption of the cashless system in the hospital.
The memo, signed by Ag. Head of Department, Account and Finance, AKTH, Amusa Toyin Ibrahim, said that only and except pay points at General Out Patients Department (GOPD) and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) would be left with cash payment and collection until January 25, 2021, when cashless policy is fully adopted.
With the new policy in place, the hospital management has engaged the services of money agents to receive payment of drugs, test, admission and other medical services from the patients.
The service is expected to attract additional cost as service charge. The concession plan has automatically restricted the account officers from physical contact with cash.
Meanwhile, patients have expressed worries over sudden revocation of cash payment and subsequent foisting of cashless policy in the tertiary health facility.
Dissatisfied with the new service option, clients are lamenting that the cashless system is inflicting another hardship on them. In addition to the complaints, patients are alleging that the concession is another means of exploiting them.
Abubakar Aminu, a relative of one of the sick persons in the hospital, accused the management of foisting cashless policy on poor patients who are struggling to source money to foot their medical bill.
Abubakar insists there is no genuine reason to impose another round of suffering on relatives of the sick, who are already burdened with stress and depression.
Haruna Yahaya, who was also at the hospital to support a patient, expressed concern that the new system was not too good to all categories of patients.
He lamented that not everyone operates bank account, let alone, owning ATM card. He urged the management to revert to the cash payment without extra charges.
Also, Mustapha Ibrahim accused AKTH management of shifting responsibility to the clients, when it was, in fact, the hospital’s duty to stem challenges arising from healthcare delivery.
“The new system is wrong in the sense that relatives of patients will now make extra cost as service charge to the money agents. This is wrong because majority are poor. People are suffering to meet the medical bill which is still expensive to an avarage person. We need the Government to Intervene,” Mustapha said.
A reliable source revealed that millions of naira are being siphoned through the physical cash remittance. The case of N750 million among other fraud allegedly perpetrated by staff of the hospital are presently under investigation, The Guardian gathered.
The hospital, it was learnt, had not been able to maintain a credible financial software to block the persistent misappropriation as several platforms introduced failed.
Reacting to the development, spokesperson of the hospital, Hajiya Hauwa Abdullahi, who regretted the inconveniences the cashless system may have cost the patients, explained the management decision was compelled to curb leakage.
Although Hajiya Hauwa denied any delibrate attempt to exploit patients as alleged by the complainants, the spokesperson insisted the service charges are significantly negligible on the contrary.
Attested to revelation of fraud being perpetrated by staff of the hospital, Hajiya Hauwa revealed that management recently uncovered the tactics deviced by the staff to defrauding the hospital especially through the cash payment system.
She disclosed that while full scale investigation is still in progress, the management introduced cashless policy and concession of payment as an immediate solution.
“We adopted the policy to block leakage. Recently, investigation conducted revealed how some unscrupulous elements stole the hospital’s revenue through the collection points.
“And don’t forget, the cashless policy is that of Federal government and agencies are also expected to adopt the system to minimise corruption and misappropriation of public funds. It is unfortunate that the policy is affecting our patients especially those that have no other means to pay other than with cash.
“To that effect, AKTH management engages services of the money agents at every pay point to collect money with a negligible charge for service. The charge is #50,00 for now and the management is still reviewing the policy to reduce the charge down to #30,00.
Asking whether the suspects are facing EFCC or ICPC upon investigation, Hajiya Hauwa said investigation remained in progress internally.
“Currently, they are under investigation and as soon as the investigation is concluded, necessary action will be taken against them. You know in civil service, you need to follow due process. You cannot just sack people. But we can assure you that investigation will reach logical conclusion.
“They are still suspects and until the investigation is concluded and they are found guilty before you call them culprits. And when found guilty, they will be treated according to civil service rules.”
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