The Chronicle

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

BU­L­AWAYO, Thurs­day, Septem­ber 19, 1991 — Doc­tors in Mata­bele­land have com­plained to the Min­istry of Health about the way peo­ple are re­quired to prove that they are un­em­ployed be­fore re­ceiv­ing free treat­ment in Gov­ern­ment hos­pi­tals.

The doc­tors told the min­is­ter, Dr Ti­mothy Stamps, at a re­fresher course for med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers at Mpilo Cen­tral Hospi­tal yes­ter­day, that hun­dreds of pa­tients in need of ur­gent at­ten­tion were turned away be­cause they could not prove that they were un­em­ployed. They de­scribed the sys­tem as in­hu­man and in­sen­si­tive.

Un­der the ex­ist­ing sys­tem, no un­em­ployed per­son can get free treat­ment with­out a sup­port­ing let­ter from the Min­istry of Labour, Man­power Plan­ning and So­cial Wel­fare. The doc­tors also said that pa­tients should not be made to pay for more ex­pen­sive drugs where less ex­pen­sive drugs were not avail­able be­cause it was not the pa­tient’s fault. Some doc­tors also felt that peo­ple should not be made to pay if doc­tors per­formed tests poorly and made a wrong di­ag­no­sis be­cause it was not the pa­tient’s fault. They ar­gued that it was morally un­ac­cept­able to make peo­ple pay for shoddy work.

It was the gen­eral feel­ing among the doc­tors that the Min­istry of Health should for­mu­late a bet­ter sys­tem of mak­ing peo­ple pay for hospi­tal ser­vices. They said un­der the present sys­tem some peo­ple paid more than was nec­es­sary.

In re­sponse, Dr Stamps said his min­istry would not change its pol­icy on hospi­tal fees as it had to re­coup the money it spent on pro­vid­ing the ser­vices. He said the min­istry had a large deficit.

He said the pre­vi­ous sys­tem of free med­i­cal treat­ment had led to a fall in the stan­dard of health fa­cil­i­ties.

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