The Management of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) Nnewi, Anambra state has handed over five (5) of its junior staff to the Nigerian Police for investigation and prosecution for defrauding the Institution of Fifteen Million (N15M) by manipulating its Automated Billing and Account Method.Four (4) staff of consulting firm for the Automated Billing and Accounting Method , Health Station were also handed over to the Nigerian police for colluding with NAUTH staff in the fraud.
Already the Nigerian police have arraigned 2 of the NAUTH staff and 4 staff of Health Station to an Nnewi Magistrate court for defrauding the Federal government. The other three were cleared of the allegation but warned to be careful with their dealings to avoid falling prey.
The automated billing method was introduced by the management of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) Nnewi, Anambra state to minimize fraud , so said the Chief Medical Director(CMD) of the hospital, Prof Anthony Igwegbe hence the discovery of the fraud during audit.
The CMD told journalists in his office on Friday that the automated billing method was introduced into the institution in 2012 and that the idea behind the introduction was to minimize fraud.Prof Igwegbe said the discovery was possible because of NAUTH’s zero tolerance to corruption even as he said further that the system has enhanced services of the hospital by reducing waiting time of patients noting that the system is being powered by “Health Station” on Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Prof Igwegbe however clarified that “Health Station” as an organization does not collect revenue for the medical institution but made an application available to the hospital which permanently solved the problems associated with fake receipts.
“At a time in the history of this hospital, all manner of receipts were flying around here, some of the receipts in use in those days even looked more original than the hospital’s original receipts and in the process huge sums of money was lost to the fraudsters.
“The automated billing method has been working effectively for the hospital until this year when our partner employed some bad eggs who connived with our staff to defraud the system. The fraud was discovered three weeks ago. After the incident, the company carried out a system auditing and discovered that it was their staff who manipulated the system.
Their management is not taking it lightly with the staff suspected to be at the centre of fraudulently manipulating the system. The suspects have been charged to court on two count charge of fraud and forgery.
” We have set up a committee to investigate the level of involvement of our staff and at the end of the day, the ones found culpable would be dealt with in line with the existing civil service laws. The management of NAUTH has zero tolerance to fraud, that is why we introduced the automated billing system.” Prof Igwegbe explained.
The CMD of NAUTH said the management is taking further steps to prevent criminal manipulation of the system in the future but noted that the quick discovery of the plot to defraud the hospital really helped to checkmate on time before damage is done.
Prof Igwegbe also placed it on record that he does not own a Facebook account and that anyone carrying out any transaction with such Facebook is doing so at his or her own risk.
“Most of CMDs across the country are victims of fraudsters using their pictures and other details to create facebook accounts to defraud the unsuspecting members of the public. A Facebook account was criminally opened in my name but thank God, we have been able to block it after involving security agents.
“The management and administration of the hospital cannot be done on Facebook and other social media, that is why the doors of this office is always open so that whoever that has any complaint can come and see us. Like I said, if any of our staff has behaved in a way suggestive of fraudulent activity, let the victim come to me and report the concerned staff. We have zero tolerance for fraud here.” He stressed.
The CMD who used the occasion of the briefing to highlight the recent achievements recorded by the hospital said “NAUTH is alive, we are rendering quality services to our patients who are satisfied and happy with us. This has led to a huge number of patients trooping to this hospital for Medicare.
“We have functional SERVICON, we place suggestion boxes here and there so that we get feedback from our patients. Our endoscopic surgery department has improved. We have acquired machine for blood culture. We bought two new 500KVA generators to enhance power situation in this hospital.
“NAUTH is only struggling to buy gas for the generators now unlike in the past that we were struggling with repair works on the old generators. The CEO of Air Peace, Barr Onyema also donated one 500KVA generator to this hospital. In all, we can say categorically that we are carrying out our mandate to the patients in this hospital.
Prof Igwegbe however identified lack of space in the hospital’s temporary site as a major challenge but added quickly that work is ongoing at the permanent site and that the management and board of the hospital is passionately committed to seeing NAUTH move to the permanent.