BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
THE National Referral Hospital will no longer be responsible to pay return sea fares for referred patients as of May 21, 2018.
In the past, NRH was responsible for meeting all expenses related to patients return sea fares for referral, but now the Ministry of Health and Medical Service (MHMS) has agreed to share its responsibilities.
Now the Government budget for referred patient sea fares will be transferred to each provincial health finance department.
In a press conference yesterday, the NRH’s Chief Executive officer (CEO) Dr Steve Aumanu said such changes of arrangement was agreed to by MHMS, NRH, and the provincial health directors.
Mr Aumanu explained that according to the new referral patients sea fares policy, Solomon Islands Government’s allocated budget for referred patients’ sea fares will be transferred to each provincial health finance department.
He said costs of inward and return travel by all referred patients to NRH for treatment will be the responsibility of the provincial health services.
Meanwhile, MHMS and NRH plans to implement such initiative due to the following reasons:
- Pressure on NRH and MoFT payment process would be minimised
- Avoid withdrawal of huge amounts of hard cash about $100,000 per payout two-week and kept at NRH, risk fraud, theft and trim off the standing imprest threshold
- Avoid patients gathering at the NRH Accounts Department waiting for sea fares; can be as long as weeks
- Help saving us time to do other accounting tasks
- Better management monitoring of referred patients by Directors of Provincial Health Services
The number of referred patients repatriated in 2017 was 455, number of patients per payout, 300 and total spending of 2017 is $3.7 million.
For the past years the NRH has been responsible for managing the repatriation of referred patients back to their provincial port of disembarkation.
All directors of provincial health services will enforce their own patient’s referral policy and are ready to implement this new process.