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MPs fault hospitals for detaining patients, bodies over unpaid bills

By Moses Nyamori | October 20th 2021

Health PS Susan Mochache speaks to press after receiving 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China Government at JKIA on September 18, 2021. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

MPs have summoned health stakeholders over increased cases of detention of patients and bodies by hospitals over medical bills.

Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC) and Chief Executive Officers of all referral hospitals will appear before the National Assembly Health committee to shed light on the worrying trend involving private and public facilities.

KMPDC chief executive officer Daniel Yumbwa appeared before the committee yesterday to respond to questions by Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch on the government’s policy regarding detention of patients by hospitals over unpaid bills.

This follows the decision of Reale Hospital Eldoret to detain the body of Julius Nyerere Odera over a Sh4 million unpaid bill.

“Could the Cabinet Secretary compel Reale Hospital to release the body of the deceased considering that the family has continued to incur a charge of Sh1,000 daily as mortuary fees?” Olago posed.

Yumbwa told the MPs that the council wrote to the hospital to release the body but the facility declined.

The council has subsequently summoned the hospital and the family of the deceased to appear before the Disciplinary and Ethics Committee on October 26, for further action.

The late Nyerere was admitted to the facility until June 1, when he died.

The widow raised Sh1.6 million but the hospital refused to release the body, even as the bill accrue Sh1,000 daily.

Yumbwa was also put task by the committee over alleged weak control measures in the health sector.

The lawmakers singled out private hospitals for exploiting patients through exorbitant charges.

Committee vice chairperson Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Eseli Simiyu (Taongaren) and Beatrice Adagala (Kakamega MP) accused the council of doing little to protect Kenyans from exploitation by health facilities.

“I get shocked when I look at hospitals bills. KMPDC is basically overseeing the privatisation of healthcare in the country,” Dr Eseli said.

He claimed that some hospitals put patients in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to make as much money as possible.

Adagala accused the council of failing to reign in hospitals that have made their operations profit-oriented.

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