Cash crunch: UBTH patients stranded over inability to pay for services
Some patients receiving medical care at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), on Wednesday, expressed displeasure over their inability to pay for medical services due to cash crunch.
The patients told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin they had no cash to pay for their bills including hospital cards, drugs and medical examinations.
They said the cashless system was frustrating, but prayed that the situation got better to prevent patients dying from preventable causes.
Mrs Sarah Idemudia, an elderly patient, told NAN that she had been waiting for more than two hours at the hospital’s Point of Sales (POS) payment point to pay for her medication.
She said, “I have been here at the General Practice Clinic (GPC), I have seen a doctor, and he prescribed some medications for me. But I have no cash to pay for the medication.
“I tried using the hospital’s PoS machine to pay, but it is not going through. I am stranded and do not know what to do.
“I even called my daughter to transfer money to the hospital’s account, but she said it wasn’t going through,” she lamented.
According to a member of staff of the hospital who spoke on the condition of anonymity, I brought my son to access medical care. I tried using cashless means of payment, but it is not going through.
“I don’t have cash to buy the drugs prescribed, but I have money in my bank account to pay for the drugs. I pray that the transaction works before the end of closing hours.”
NAN observed that the payment point at the GPC section of the hospital had PoS machines, but some transactions, especially those involving First Bank, were not going through.
The PoS machines at the payment points at both the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Ward and Consultant Out Patients Department had no network to carry out transactions as of the time of filing this report.
NAN also reports that some patients without cash to pay for medical services were seen waiting patiently for the cashless payment options to work.
Reacting to the situation, Head of Public Relations, UBTH, Mr Joshua Uwaila, said the hospital was ready to provide care to patients.
Uwaila said that the hospital had made cashless options available for patients to pay for services, noting that poor network was a concern.
He urged them to be patient, saying, “we pray that the situation gets better soon.”
NAN reports that the cash crunch situation in the country is not only affecting the buying and selling of goods, it is also affecting access to medical services.
Some PoS operators charged as high as N1,500 per N5,000 withdrawal as against the N100 charged per N5,000 before the introduction of the new Naira notes.