By Osi Nelson
Others workers at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) except doctors are on strike but the doctors are now freely collecting cash from patients for consultation; to hear their cases.
The normal process is for patients to pass through accounts department to get tellers and go pay in the bank right there and bring the papers back for stamping. After that, they go and see whichever doctor is booked for them. By this, the doctors do not see or touch cash.
When journalists took on the former chief medical director (CMD) of UPTH, Aaron Ojule, he explained the reason, saying it was to cut off fraud and embezzlement. He had admitted that the long process was a big delay to patients but that it was needed to protect the funds coming to the Hospital.
Now, with nurses, pharmacists, admin and accounts staff members on strike, the doctors ‘help out’ by collecting consultation fees cash. No receipts are issued to patients.
The doctors go ahead to listen to the cases but they do not offer treatment. They say they cannot do anything because nurses or others were on strike. Patients either go to the town to buy the drugs other services or wait till nurses resume.
As for the cash collected without receipts, there was no physical evidence of how the records would be kept for handover to the government coffers.
Patients interviewed however said they did not bother, so long as they saw doctors to listen to their cases.
There was no official on hand to answer press questions due to the strike action.