Pantang Hospital has become indebted to its suppliers that provide essential goods such as food and chemicals for the daily running of the health facility to the tune of GH¢2.8 million.
It has compelled some of the hospital’s most reliable and loyal suppliers to cease their services since last year while others are threatening to institute legal action to force the hospital to settle its indebtedness.
Checks conducted by the Daily Graphic following concerns raised by some of the affected suppliers indicated that the hospital was indebted to about 25 suppliers including some big names such as Ghana Oil Limited (GOIL), Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Alliance Waste Limited, Auto Clinic and 2D Laboratory.
It followed the inability of the government to release the full budgetary allocation for the health facility.
For instance, the hospital received only GH¢700,000 out of the GH¢2.3 million budgetary allocation for last year to run and execute its strategic plan.
When contacted, the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Frank Baning, confirmed the development and stated that the attention of the Ministry of Health (MoH) had been drawn to the situation.
He said MoH, subsequently, directed the hospital to write to the Ministry of Finance to settle the suppliers involved.
“And so, the hospital has done as directed by its parent ministry and we are, therefore, hopeful that Finance Ministry will settle suppliers soon in order for them to resume their work efficiently,” he said.
However, Dr Baning explained that a number of factors accounted for the hospital’s indebtedness to its suppliers.
Beyond the difficulties with release of the budget allocation, the hospital also provided free psychiatric services to the majority of patients.
That, he said, was because the enactment of the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846) made mental health services free of charge in the country.
Although the Act also established a mental health fund, it had not been operationalised to underwrite mental health service bills to ensure they were free.
“Although per the law mental services are to be free, patrons still pay at facility levels due to some operational challenges. So, what we actually do is to charge those who can pay and the money used to take care of those who cannot pay,” he said.
The director noted that relatives of a patient who was charged for mental services had petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
“Their concern is that the law makes it totally free and so, we need not charge but we cannot provide the services without financial support.
“And so we have also responded to their petition against us at CHRAJ,” he added.
Mental health under NHIS
Dr Baning appealed to the government to move mental health services under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to enable such patients to access adequate care.
He stated that the free drugs for patients under the mental health programme were generally unavailable and, therefore, patients were burdened with paying for them.
“We are appealing to the government to move mental health services under NHIS to reduce the financial burden on the national purse. Under the NHIS, we can make claims for every patient that seeks services at the facility,” he added.
The Pantang Hospital medical director noted that caring for patients who were mentally unwell was more costly than general illnesses.
SOURCE: Daily Graphic