THE National Referral Hospital (NRH) as of this week won’t be responsible for the repatriation of sick patients being referred from the provinces.
This means payment of seafares by NRH account department to sick patients being discharged from the hospital will cease. However, all payments will be handled by the provincial health services.
This was announced by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Steve Aumanu during a press conference recently.
“The cost of inward and return sea travel by all referred patients from the provinces to NRH will be transferred to the Provincial Health Services.”
He explained the decision was made through the NRH consultants after discussing the case in depth with the referring provincial medical officers and endorsed by the NRH medical Superintendent and approved by PS Ministry of Health and Medical Services MHMS).
“After a review and an internal audit of the process, it is recommended that this service is shifted from NRH Finance Office to the offices of all Directors of Provincial Health Service,” he said.
Dr Aumanu said the reasons are to minimize pressure on NRH accounts section, Ministry of Finance and Treasury payment process and to avoid withdrawing of huge sums of hard cash.
He said, every two weeks per payment, NRH kept about $100,000 hard cash which is at risk of fraud and theft.
He said the other reasons are to avoid patients gathering at the NRH accounts department waiting for their sea-fares, save time for NRH to do other accounting tasks and provide better management monitoring of referred patients by Directors of Provincial Health Services.
The NRH CEO highlighted, in 2017 the total referred patient repatriated was 4557 which cost SBD$3.7 million.
He also added, last year NRH also spent $1.5 million for Helicopter charters for emergency cases need to be flown to Honiara for treatment.
“This is very expensive and should be always be authorised in advance by NRH consultants,” he said.
He said the MHMS and NRH will continue to maintain responsibility for Emergency Provincial Hospitals referrals to NRH but not for sea fares.
“This means that, the cost of inward and return sea travel by all referred patients to NRH for treatment will be the responsibility of the office of the Director of Provincial Health Services,” he said.
Dr Aumanu said the referred patient’s sea fares budget from the government is now being transferred to the provincial health finance departments to manage for this purpose.
He said, a set of guidelines will apply in the distribution of funds for each province.
The guidelines are allocation of funds will be allocated on how much each province spends in 2017, allocation per province includes Emergency Referrals but expended by MHMS and NRH and each DPH services will enforce its own referral policy for referred patients which they must comply.
By CHARLES KADAMANA