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MBABANE – Patients deliberately run away from government hospitals without settling their bills.

As a result, government is owed about E410 650 by the patients, who deliberately abscond from the health facilities without settling their outstanding bills. This is according to the report of the Auditor General on the Consolidated Government Accounts for the financial year ended March 31, 2019. According to the report which was tabled by the Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg, in the House of Assembly, the Ministry of Health reported that it had the irrecoverable outstanding revenue in the aforementioned amount. The AG reported that the debts were from the year ended March 31, 2016 and had been outstanding for a period of over four years without being recovered by the ministry. The AG, Timothy Matsebula, said he was concerned that the ministry was not prioritising the recovery of the outstanding revenue and was not aware of any action undertaken towards recovering the debts that had been outstanding.


In response, the Controlling Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr Simon Zwane said the outstanding revenue was accumulated from admitted patients in hospitals and health facilities, who were discharged from health facilities without paying their debts due to various reasons. One of the reasons cited was that some patients on discharge literally did not have the money to settle their bills, but made promises that they would settle them at a later date to no avail. “Some patients deliberately abscond from health facilities without settling their outstanding bills,” said the controlling officer. 

He said patients who were transferred on emergency from health centres or hospitals to referral hospitals also left without settling their bills. The controlling officer said the ministry did follow up on the patients urging them to settle their outstanding bills. Meanwhile, the AG observed that there was an abnormal increase of obsolete (outdated) stock recorded by the ministry.  He said the audit of Drugs Trading Account revealed that there was unverified obsolete stock by the Board of survey amounting to E6 741 219.  “I also noted that the obsolete stock had an abnormal increase of E4 809 686.21 which was 249 per cent as compared with the previous financial year’s figure of E1 931 533.40,” reads the report. In response the controlling officer stated that the obsolete stock was verified together with Treasury Stores Department and that the significant increase was due to several factors.


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