Patients refused South Africa treatment due to unpaid bills

 

The Botswana government through the Ministry of Health spent £47 million at South African hospitals between 2014 and 2017, but this has not been enough to avoid the embarrassment of having patients kicked out of South African hospitals due to non-payment by the government.

Patients from Botswana hospitals are sent to South Africa for cancer treatment, eye surgery, blood problems, vascular surgery and paediatric surgery among other treatment. Patients were turned away from the Netcare Sunninghill Hospital in South Africa because the Botswana government had an outstanding bill of £105,000.

Two patients returned from Sunninghill Hospital in May without their procedures being done because the hospital indicated that they are owed money by the Botswana government.

When patients are seen at South African hospitals, health facilities are not paid cash. The costs have to be verified and this can take some time as Botswana sends many patients to South Africa. The Princess Marina hospital sends at least 30 patients to South Africa for medical procedures every week.

Between 2015-17, £1 million was paid by the Botswana government to send patients to India for various medical operations. These included bone marrow, kidney and liver transplants.

The year on year cost of government spending for patients referred to South Africa was:

  • 2014/15 - £12 million
  • 2015/16 - £15 million
  • 2016/17 - £20 million

This is compared to the cost of government spending for patients referred to India:

  • 2015/16 - £375,000
  • 2016/17 - £600,000

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