THE University Teaching Hospital (UTH) has hiked user fees by up to 200 percent for services under the premium and standard patients’ schemes owing to the high cost of goods and services.
And doctors at the hospital have expressed concern at the number of patients failing to pay the new laboratory fees and have ended up leaving before medical examinations were completed.
UTH managing director Lackson Kasonka confirmed the increment yesterday, attributing the move to the general cost of operations which has become too high for management to afford under the old fees.
Investigations by the Daily Nation confirmed that high cost fees for VIP treatment has increased from K3, 000 to K25, 000 while specialised tests like computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electrocardiography (ECG) have been increased from about K1, 500 to an average K4000.
Dr Kasonka said the hospital owed Zesco about K1.2 million in accumulated electricity bills which should be paid from the government grants paid to the facility or through its own initiative.
“UTH has not adjusted user fees for a long time, and the cost of goods and services including food, fuel and cleaning services which the hospital needs have been increased over the years, affecting our operations.
“We need to pay about K140, 000 per month for electricity, we need to pay for water and we have to buy a lot of food for our patients.
“We need stationery for patient’s information, lab forms, X-ray envelops and film, and also chemical reagents and other requirements for medical examinations and services that we require to operate a hospital,” he said.
According to information obtained from public notices displayed at UTH Casualty Ward and Filter Clinic, the standard scheme (low cost) has been adjusted from K10 to K30 including laboratory blood tests, Xray and ultrasound, ECG and Echo among other medical tests.
Some doctors have complained that patients have previously failed to pay K10 laboratory test fees with others going without treatment because they could not pay for an Xray or ultrasound.
And Dr Kasonka explained that premium or high cost fees were a prerogative of the hospital on their special services provided to patients who choose to use the facility.
The UTH boss said fees in the premium scheme were arrived at in line with competitors in the health sector which was meant to provide quality services.
“The doctors and nurses who work under this service are given some minimum allowance because it is a programme outside their general services to the public, and we also secure space and provide an environment matching to that at private hospitals because we compete for the patients.
“If we do not do that, our high cost services will go down and we would have no money to support the programme since we cannot use Government grants for that project,” Dr Kasonka said.
And Dr Kasonka has disclosed that six financial institutions have established presence at the hospital to provide banking services at the facility.
He said this had helped the hospital increase revenue including those from other commercial service providers like restaurants and small shops for essentials like soap, talk time and other personal requirements necessary for patients and family members as caregivers.