Several patients seeking treatment at Chuka County Referral Hospital have for the last three days been turned back either because they do not have phones or are not registered with M-Pesa.
Ms Lucy Ciamati told the Nation that she was denied services at the facility be-cause she did not have a phone, and did not know how to use one. So the 75-year-old granny was forced seek treatment at a clinic in Chuka town.
“I was told that cash is not accepted, and that I had to look for someone who could pay for me using M-Pesa," said Ms Ciamati.
Seventy-two-year-old Simon Mutegi from Marima in Maara Sub-County was forced to go back to Chogoria Mission Hospital for treatment for the same reason.
Patients have also raised concerns over the transaction costs.
“It pains us to pay extra charges and we wonder why the county government can’t introduce a mode of payment that does not burden poor patients,” said Mr James Mutugi, a patient.
Contacted for comment, County Health Executive Gichuiyia Nthuraku said, “This is our new mode of payment and is meant to promote transparency and accountability but should not hinder anyone from getting services.”
He added that the county plans to digitise revenue collection at all health facilities.
But he asked those in the accounts offices to accept cash from old people who cannot use the service.
On the extra charges, Dr Nthuraku said the county was in consultation with Safaricom ensure that it bears the transaction costs and not the patient.
“We don’t want patients to pay more than the services offered, so the county will pay the transaction charges,” he said.