NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – The Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) has dismissed allegations by a doctor’s union that it risks locking out poor Kenyans from accessing affordable healthcare by increasing rates for various including consultation, reproductive health and maternal care.
KNH Chief Executive Officer Richard Lesiyampe told Capital FM News on Wednesday that the claims by the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) were unfounded because the only rates that had been revised are consultation fees.
Lesiyampe explained that the hospital had to increase its consultation fees from Sh200 to Sh550 in November 2011 to cover consultants’ wages, noting that the last time such a review was done was in 1990.
He said that the increment was done with the board’s blessings and with the current inflation rates in mind.
“I honestly don’t know where they (KMPDU) are getting their figures from and we have not had any reviews since last year. KNH is a sensitive hospital and you cannot just go about reviewing rates,” he explained.
KMPDU had earlier told journalists that KNH had revised its consultation rates first from Sh200 then to Sh400 and finally to Sh550.
He added that patients had to cough up an extra Sh250 to get a medical file.
The union’s chairman Victor Ngani also alleged that pap smear costs had been reviewed from Sh100 to Sh1050 while the costs for a Caesarean Section (CS) had gone up from Sh8,000 to more than Sh18,000.
“Generally they had fees raised from 300 percent to 700 percent and in so doing they have locked out 65 percent Kenya’s population from the only hospital that bore hope for them,” he claimed.
Lesiyampe however disputed Ngani’s claims saying KNH did not have a standard CS rate because such procedures were mostly conducted in emergency situations.
He said that the minimum costs for a CS at KNH was Sh14,000, but could go up depending on the mother’s condition.
“Most cases which come to us are complicated for example if the mother has a heart condition and then we have to rush her to the Intensive Care Unit,” he observed.
“Such a patient will need consumables like medical gases and we have to buy these items because they are not given to us by the government,” he said.
Lesiyampe has been feted for the reforms he spearheaded at the hospital since becoming CEO in August 2011.
Ngani however argued that the applause given to Lesiyampe was misplaced because KNH was not yet a success story.
“On what do we judge our public hospitals? Is it on the positive balance sheet or the quality of service? To the businessman KNH is indeed a success but to the healthcare provider it’s a reason to mourn,” he quipped.
Lesiyampe also revealed that the referral hospital obtained an endoscopy tower worth Sh21 million this April.
He added that earlier this month, the hospital acquired a catheterisation laboratory for patients with heart conditions after the last one collapsed eight years ago.
According to Lesiyampe, the cath lab is valued at Sh70 million.
He also said that the hospital had acquired a Sh330 million linear accelerator for cancer patients in addition to renovating the 10th and ninth floors of the hospital as it upgrades its private wing.