CASH-STRAPPED Mpilo Central Hospital could have been fleeced of millions of dollars through a suspected well-orchestrated scam in which fake receipts were issued to patients and service providers by the accounts department working in cahoots with others since dollarisation of the economy in 2009.
The multi-million-dollar scam could have prejudiced the major referral hospital of revenue resulting in the institution struggling to meet its obligations.
The suspected scam comes two months after Health and Child Welfare deputy minister Douglas Mombeshora expressed concern over levels of corruption at the hospital with some staffers allegedly inflating prices of drugs and other goods supplied to the hospital and pocketing the money.
Mpilo Central Hospital chief executive officer Lawrence Mantiziba told NewsDay yesterday that they had discovered that several receipt books long being phased out were still in circulation at the institution.
“One of our patients recently produced a receipt which is no longer in circulationand we instituted investigations,” Mantiziba said.
“We interviewed staff on the origins of the fake receipt, but no one owned up. Even the person who is in charge of the receipt books professed ignorance saying he was on leave, and true he was.
Therefore, we have decided to go open about the issue and call on all people that received any treatment since 2009 to come forward with their receipts for verification.”
Mantiziba said it was difficult at this stage to say how much the
hospital could have lost through the scam.
“It is extremely difficult at this stage to put a figure,” he said. “This is because we are not yet sure on the magnitude of the matter and whether it was a once-off or is an ongoing thing.”
However, Mantiziba said no one would be victimised for coming forward with a receipt that would turn out to be fake.
“If we detect that the patient’s receipt is a fake one, the board and management would have to decide on whether the patient should repay. As an institute we have a register of all patients and some are in arrears. So people should come forward and assist us crack down the scam sooner rather than later,” Mantiziba added.
The hospital has since put up posters advising patients and service providers to be wary of fake receipts with numbers before or after 929076H.
“All patients or clients who were issued with such receipts within the last four years (2009 to date) on payment of hospital bills or any services are advised to come to Mpilo and present to or contact the director of finance or chief executive officer and Zimbabwe Republic Police,” reads part of the notice.
“If you were issued such receipts, your account may still be in outstanding or not cleared.”
Last month, the city’s largest referral hospital engaged debt collectors to recover over $8 million owed by patients.