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Batswana patients kicked out of SA hospital!

Publishing Date : 04 June, 2018

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

Government through the Ministry of Health has spent a whopping P 627 504 802 on South African hospitals between 2014 and 2017, but this has not been enough to avoid the embarrassment of having Batswana patients kicked out of South African hospitals due to non-payment by government.


Patients originating from Botswana hospitals and sent to South Africa for medical attention are treated for various conditions, including Pediatric Cancers, Ophthalmology, Hematology, Vascular Surgery and Pediatric Cardiac Operations among other ailments. Some patients were recently turned away at the Netcare Sunning Hill hospital in South Africa because government has a bill yet to be cleared at that hospital, compared to the amount Botswana spends at South African hospitals, a paltry P1.4 million is the amount owed.


Although the Public Relations Office at Princess Marina Hospital could not disclose the amount owed to the South African hospital, this publication established the rounded figure from sources. “Two patients returned from Sunning Hill Hospital without their procedures being done because the hospital indicated that they are owed some money by Botswana Government. These patients returned on the 4th of May 2018 and are awaiting appointment from the doctors.


One needs to understand that when patients are seen at South African Hospitals, health facilities are not paid cash. The costs have to be verified and this can take some time since we have a lot of patients referred to South Africa,” PMH Chief Media liaison, Donnell Kutlapye confirmed. Botswana is supporting South Africa’s ‘medical tourism’, Many people cross the border for health care are doing so for serious medical conditions, Kutlapye said the Princess Marina hospital sends at least 30 patients to South Africa for medical procedures every week.


Batswana also travel because their home country lacks quality facilities or to seek treatments illegal or  HYPERLINK "https://theconversation.com/medical-treatment-not-approved-yet-no-problem-welcome-to-circumvention-tourism-35070" not yet available at home. But to avoid embarrassment, procedures have to be followed before patients are sent to private hospitals in South Africa. WeekendPost has also been reliably informed that Marina staff also goofed up as they sent some patients off without providing their full medical profile.


Contacted for comment, one of the patients who was among the group sent to the said hospital at the beginning of last month, stated that lodging and transport were also a problem. This, it has emerged resulted in delays in attending patients timely and eventually returning home without treatment. “We were told there is no fuel,” said one affected patient who spoke to this publication anonymously.  “We used a quantum owned by one of the Lodges to go to the border where we connected with a marina combi, however there was only one nurse – and she could not assist all of us.”


Some of the aggrieved patients pointed out that despite the sensitivity of their conditions, they were stranded in Sandton as there was no transport to bring back them home. “The lodging facility submits their bills to the Health Share Health Solutions which was tasked with placing patients to health facilities. Health Share Solutions then submits invoices to Botswana Embassy for payment,” Kutlapye shared.


He also added: “We had transport challenges and we arranged transport with the lodging facility. They brought patients all the way up to the border. All the 12 patients had been discharged from various hospitals and were stable. There was a communication error that led to an hour delay. Our nurse used our ambulance and picked the patients from the South African border.” Government has been sending patients to South Africa for procedures that cannot be carried out locally, either due to lack of resources or capacity.


Meanwhile, between 2015 and 2017, a total of P13 million was used by government to send patients to India for various medical operations. These included bone marrow, kidney and liver transplants. The new health Minister Dr Alfred Madigele has vowed to resuscitate the Ministry which recently attracted backlash from the public for perceived poor service delivery. Princess Marina Hospital in particular has come under fire over issues of negligence.

Below is cost of government spending for patients referred to South Africa.

FINANCIAL YEAR    TOTAL AMOUNT SPENT
2014/15    P160, 365, 699.55
2015/16    P200, 519, 219.39
2016/17    P266, 662, 884. 71
Below is cost of referrals to India.


FINANCIAL YEAR    TOTAL AMOUNT SPENT
2015/16    P5, 000 000. 00 
2016/17    P8, 000 000. 00

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