Only 25% of patients that access healthcare at the National Hospital, Abuja, actually pay for their medical bills, Newsspecng learnt.
About two thousand patients visit the hospital for one healthcare or the other on daily basis.
The Hospital was originally designed to cater for the needs of women and children in Nigeria and the West African sub-region with a view to reduce morbidity and mortality rates, and to carry out extensive research into the peculiar causes of women and children- related diseases in Africa.
National Hospital Abuja commenced operations on 1 September 1999. Initially christened ‘National Hospital For Women And Children’, the National Hospital, Abuja’ came into effect from 10 May 2000.
However, the need to provide adequate healthcare for the vast majority of Nigerians led to the alteration of the scope of operation of the hospital to accomodate male patients.
It has since been upgraded into a tertiary hospital and it has remained one of the refferal hospitals in the country.
Besides, the about 120 staffed hospital has one of the best trauma and cancer centres in the country.
Phase 1 of the Hospital contains 200 beds, but the centre has facilities for future expansion to 500 beds.
However, Newsspecng can exclusively report that not all patients attended to are able to pay for their medical treatment.
Confirming this to this online newspaper, the Spokesman for the hospital, Dr Tayo Hastrup said in most cases the management of the hospital writes off some bills as most patients were on able to pay for their treatment.
Hastrup also pointed out that their inability to pay wad not because the charges of the hospital was on the high side, but because of the current economic realities of the country coupled with the specialised treatment they sorted for.
He revealed that the hospital management in the previous year wrote off a bill of about N11 million as the patients could not afford to pay.
He said the hospital has the policy of life first and that explained why it has a special Welfare committee in place to address the situation.
National Hospital spokesman also denied the report Mali g the rounds that the hospital rake hostage of those who he referred to as “indigent patients”.
He reasoned that keeping them back more thsn neccessary was not to the advantage of the hospital when it becomes obvious that they could not afford the bills and abandoned by family members.
He said it was this situation that led the management to set up the welfare committe, which has been working on the issue.
“I want to appeal to philanthropists to assist in payment of these bills. I want to tell you, they are very minimal. I have to tell you in one year, if you calculate the patients that did not pay I National Hospital at a particular year, may be last year, it was about twelve million naira (N12million) that we spent on indigent patients. They will come we treat, but it is also affecting the revenue of the hospital because it is from the payment of the few people that are paying that we are also using to service those who are not paying. The people that are not paying are getting so many.
“Another thing that I need to correct again is that we don’t detained patients who cannot pay. Actually, there is a policy that once we realise that one to two weeks, you are using our bed and you are not paying, we will enter into an agreement with their guarantor. We allow the guarantor to come and stand for them. Apart from indigent patients, there are some people that cannot pay at once and they will say they want to be paying gradually. We discharge them after entering into agreement on mode of payment.”
On the number of indigent patients, he said, “they are many, those who cannot pay are far more than those who can pay. As a matter of fact more than half of the patients we see in this hospital cannot afgord to pay their bills.”
A staff of the welfare committee later confirmed that “Only 25% of patients actually pay their bills while the about 75% in most cases cannot afford to.”
The hospital, according to findings sees more emergency cases, which could possibly explain the reason for the high number of indigent patients on admission.
Dr. Hastrup also used the opportunity to appeal to philanthropists to partner with hospital in defrailing such cost.
“We need to encourage those who are well to do and can afford, should focus on hospurals and assist those who cannot afgord to pay their hospiral bills. This is how this society can move forward and make people happy.”