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Private Hospitals Drowning In Unpaid Debts- UHF

Private hospitals are grappling with millions of unpaid debt by patients

The Uganda Healthcare Federation (UHF), an umbrella body for private healthcare providers has expressed the need for an efficient strategy that enables clients pay their due medical bills without unnecessary strain with service providers.

Speaking to our reporter in an interview on Thursday, Grace Kiwanuka UHF’s Executive Director said several of their members are grappling with millions of unpaid debt by patients with no streamlined repayment mechanism.

Kiwanuka was speaking just a day after a couple sued Roswell, a women and children’s hospital in Kampala for allegedly detaining a baby over maternity bills last month.

The four months old baby was brought to court on Wednesday filling the court room with emotions as parents, Saloome Aturinde and Brigders Rogers Mugenyi  couldn’t confirm if this baby was indeed theirs considering that it was taken away from them at birth.

However, Kiwanuka says this controversy is one of the many related incidences that have been happening behind the scenes as hospitals and patients fail to agree on accumulated medical bills.

She explains, private hospitals adopted a policy of having patients make down payment or commitment fee on admission but this has so far been untenable for many and yet another strategy of giving daily updates on expenses by admitted patients hasn’t worked either.

In their latest statement, Roswell also hinted on this saying the patient disappeared once they were presented with the medical bill.

“ When the baby was discharged on 15th May 2023, Ms Aturinde was presented with medical bills and she left the hospital indicating that she was going to return to clear the medical bills, unfortunately, both Ms Aturinde and Mr Mugenyi did not come back to the hospital despite various attempts to contact them”.

However in their petition filed through their lawyers led by Christopher Ocom and Geoffrey Turyamusiima, the couple said the hospital had detained the baby and turned it into a commodity, which they consider to be inhuman, cruel, and degrading.

They claim that the hospital even threatened to sell the baby to Sanyu Babies home.

According to the parents, the hospital prevented the baby’s mother from breastfeeding or providing pumped breast milk to the child.

But, claims of detaining patients at private hospitals due to pay are not new as these complaints were common at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic where many patients were stuck with medical bills.

Kiwanuka said they had made proposals to government then to reduce the cost of health by among others signing private public partnerships and doing pool purchases as private providers.

These have so far not been actualized.

-URN

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