By Ike Uchechukwu
CALABAR—PATIENTS have complained about the mind-boggling extortion and exploitation by staff of the General Hospital, Calabar, Cross River State, especially nurses, who sell their own drugs to sick persons. Patients, who spoke to Niger-Delta Voice, also grumbled that those that sell drugs at the Pharmacy Unit do not issue receipts for the actual drugs and consumables like drips and gloves purchased, thereby undercutting the hospital.
Fraudsters: Mr. Bassey Asuquo, who brought his father for treatment at the hospital, narrated his experience to this paper. “We brought our father here Friday, last week (fortnight ago), but unfortunately, we lost him on Monday, February 1. However, for the three days we spent well over N40,000 without any receipt apart from the one we were given at the morgue when he was deposited.”
“They tell you that the cashier is not around but the truth is there are no receipts issued, it is also alleged that most of the drugs they sell there (hospital and its pharmacy) belong to some ‘big people’ in the hospital,” Bassey said. According to him, “When you enter some of the wards, you might even the leave the hospital with another ailment different from what you came to be treated for, take the male ward for instance, the place is unkempt while some of the rooms, both in male and female wards are flooded with water from the rest room.”
“But, I can boldly tell you that the only two places you can get the best services is the eye clinic and maternity ward in all fairness,” he added.
Corroborating Bassey, Mr. Fidelis Richard, who brought his wife, Chinasa Richard, said while the government was trying to generate revenue, some persons were busy pocketing the money.
“This is all I have, the names of the prescribed drugs, the ones they have are uncalled on the sheet but I demanded for receipt of what I paid for, the nurse, who sold the drugs to me at the pharmacy told me that the cashier was not available and sincerely speaking, I have not gotten any receipt.
“I hope you people are looking into this matter because this trend has been going on for years ,as they extort people in diverse ways because they know you are in dire need of help. They know you do not have time because you will quickly pay to get whatever it is to save the life of your person,” he asserted.
Contining, he decried the sharp practices engaged in by staff at the hospital. But, I was surprised when I went out to get the remaining items from a pharmacy outside and I decided to make inquiry about the one I bought at the hospital pharmacy and I discovered that the drugs I paid N8,500 for was just N3,820 outside, yet I was not issued receipts.
“We are appealing to His Excellency, Prof. Ben Ayade, to look into this matter because we cannot afford to be extorted in such an environment , he should send external auditors to the place to open their books, a lot of fraud is being perpetrated in that place,” lamented.
Tight-lipped: Contacted, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, Dr Ayi Etim, said he required a written authorization from the commissioner before he would comment on the matter, saying he was not qualified to speak without permission.
His words: “You people should write to the commissioner and get authorization before I can speak to you; I feel I am not in the best position to talk to you people until I have authorization to do such.”
Sincerely, I’m unaware — Asibong :Commissioner for Health, Dr (Mrs.) Inyang Asibong, said she was not aware of such activities in the hospital but revealed that they were trying to adopt Point of Sale, POS, system to checkmate such challenges. “I will look into the matter because I am not aware of it, there are challenges that could arise due to transition phases but I will look into all that,” she said.
Niger Delta Voice also gathered that the commissioner paid an unscheduled visit to the hospital weeks ago and reiterated government’s plan to revamp state government- owned hospitals to promote medical tourism.