Four Patients detained for their inability to pay their medical bills at Volta River Authority (VRA) Hospital at Akosombo have finally been released after the Member of Parliament for Asuogyaman Thomas Ampem Nyarko went to their rescue.
The patients include new mothers who delivered through Cesarean Section after complications during labor.
The MP upon hearing the plight of the patients delegated the Constituency Secretary of the National Democratic Congress Bright Sikanku to make total payment of Ghc4,356.00 to settle the medical bills.
But for the intervention of the MP, the patients would have spent the Christmas and new year at the hospital.
The practice of detaining people in hospital for non-payment of medical bills is common in Secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities in Ghana.
For instance, a total of four hundred and thirty-one (431) patients treated and discharged at the Eastern Regional Hospital between January and June this year, but could not pay their medical bills were detained.
They however deferred payment of their medical bills through the intervention of Department of Social Welfare and subsequently released.
“As a policy in this Hospital we save lives before we look at money so even if you don’t have money we will take care of you. so these patients requested for deferred payment which some have paid but majority have not which is quiet problematic,” the Medical Director of the Hospital Dr. Akoto Ampaw said during interaction with the media in Koforidua.
Management of the hospital say the phenomenon continue to plaque the finances of the hospital. The hospital lost about Ghc350,000 in 2018 to about 75 poor and needy patients who could not pay their Medical bills hence absconded while some 212 signed undertaken to pay their bills in installments.
The practice of detaining patients for inability to pay medical bills has however been criticized as it said to deter healthcare use, increases medical impoverishment, and is a denial of international human rights standards, including the right not to be imprisoned as a debtor, and the right to access to medical care.