Dr. Oluronbi Odunubi, the Chief Medical Director of the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, on Monday in Lagos expressed worry over the non-payment of N30 million medical bills owed by some patients.
Odunubi said at a news briefing marking the 70th anniversary of the hospital that the debt had hindered effective healthcare delivery at the institution.
According to him, non-payment of medical bills by some treated patients and inadequate funding are among the problems facing the hospital.
He said: “We have about N25 million to N30 million non-recoverable debts owed by various patients who cannot pay for their treatment and this has affected our services in a way.
“This is a care centre, so we don’t ask for money before treatment.
“The policy guidelines of the hospital forbid that we ask for money before we treat our patients.
“Even the allocation we receive from government is also dwindling.
“Before, we used to receive about N7 million, but now, we receive less than N2.9 million, which is grossly inadequate to settle our bills.
“The reprieve we get most often is when philanthropists and private individuals decide to offset some of these bills.
“And this we get mostly during festive seasons.”
On future plans, Odunubi said the hospital would concentrate more on training and research to make it a referral centre for other trauma centres.
He said: “We will be looking at making this hospital a centre for referral activities where we will concentrate more on advanced cases of trauma management and training of post-graduates.
“We currently have placement for residency training to enable the doctors to come here for their post-graduate programmes.”
Odunubi said the hospital, at inception, was designated as a rehabilitation camp for wounded soldiers during World War II in 1945, but later changed to become a world class centre.
He said: “The hospital was then named the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in 1956, after which it was transferred to the Lagos State Government in 1975.
“Since then, the hospital has not looked back and played a major role in attending to the wounded soldiers during the civil war.
“Today, the hospital has a 450-bed capacity with an average of 8,500 new patients and 47,000 clinic attendees annually that run daily on morning and afternoon clinics.
“The hospital is now reputed to be the largest orthopaedic hospital in the West African sub-region with a world class intensive care unit.”
According to Odunubi, the hospital takes pride in becoming the first Orthopaedic Residency Training Centre, which makes it a leading brand in the post-graduate training of professionals.
He said: “We can confidently say that about 68 per cent of all consultant orthopaedic surgeons in the country passed through this hospital and also we are the first to have the Post-Basic Nursing Training.
“This hospital now has one of the best managed Drug Revolving Fund schemes in Nigeria, all these carefully achieved through hard work.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that other activities lined up for the anniversary include health walk, free medical screening and treatment, public lecture and a novelty match.