A ruling by a Kisumu based court has exposed rot in hospitals where vulnerable patients are being exploited by unscrupulous medics and hospital managers and owners in effort to inhumanly make extra cash by recommending unwarranted medical tests to patients fighting for their lives on a deathbed.
In landmark ruling by Kisumu Employment and Labour Relations Court judge, justice Christine Baari ordered Maxcure Hospital Limited, a private health facility to pay sacked medical consultant, Jigar Patel Sh16million for wrong and unfair dismissal.
Maxcure Hospital Limited sacked Patel after he refused to carry out ‘unnecessary’ tests admission and CT scans on patients for the hospital to generate revenue.
The doctor was awarded Sh2.5million for aggravated damages, Sh8.5million for the salary arrears for November and December 2021 and for January 2021 to April and an additional Sh2.93million salary in lieu of the notice.
The court ordered Patel to be paid Sh141,922 airfares to return to India and five months’ salary amounting to Sh4.9million for wrongful dismissal.
Patel is also to be awarded a certificate of service by Maxcure Hospital Limited and a letter of no objection.
The judgment highlighted the underhand that doctors are subjected to by some private facilities for them to generate revenue and meet their set targets.
Patel had been employed on a two-year fixed-term contract with his appointment letter starting Spetember1, 2021.
On August 30, 2022 and September 15, 2023, he was called to meetings by the hospital and asked to take a pay cut on the grounds that the facility was not doing well but he refused.
It was then that he was issued with a letter to show that he had been called for a disciplinary hearing on September 19, 2022.
The disciplinary hearing stated that Patel had been rude to his peers and there were few in-patient admissions with no growth in terms of the number of patients visiting the hospital.
The hospital submitted the payslips of Patel and the documents showing the revenue collected by the hospital during the tribunal as main evidence.
However, Patel said he was asked to carry out unnecessary tests, hospital admissions and CT scans to generate revenue which he refused stating that it was against his oath.
Patel in his oral testimony told the court that he was asked to do unnecessary tests, hospitalization, and CT-scan tests on patients to generate revenue for the Respondent Hospital, but he declined because it is against the Hippocratic oath.
He said this would have amounted to a breach of duty as a health care provider and goes against the Hippocratic oath and a breach of Section 12(2) of the Health Act.
He said his role was to treat patients coming to the hospital with no preset targets.
The hospital’s Human Resource Manager in his testimony admitted that it was not Patel’s job to improve the flow of patients to the hospital, to do marketing, or to collect revenue.
“Further, there was nothing that linked the plaintiff to low patient volumes or low business sales, and his testimony that the institution required him to send patients for unnecessary tests in order to increase revenue was not rebutted.” The ruling read in part.
In her ruling, JusticeBaari cited that there were no minutes of Patel’s disciplinary hearing, as he was asked told to leave the company house where he was living with his family and hand over the keys and the car.
Patel said he requested for a few days to pack and leave but his request was denied.
The tribunal ruled that Patel had not been given notice of his dismissal and that there was no evidence that he had been paid lieu of notice, as provided for in his contract of employment.
The judgment stated that the manner in which he was treated, including deportation, caused him distress and anxiety.
According to hospital website, the controversial facility which was opened in July 2021 is owned by Rohan Patel who also serves as the Managing Director.
“With the challenges being posed by chronic lifestyle diseases making up a larger share of the disease burden relative to communicable diseases, cancer and heart diseases are on the rise. Looking at all these gaps and opportunities, Rohan Patel, Managing Director, decided to venture into this project along with his wife Dr. Lajja Patel, a Director and HOD of Radiology at the Facility. He also collaborated with other investors, advisors and directors further. The first Hospital was inaugurated by Hon. H.E. Prof. Anyan’g Nyong’o, governor of Kisumu and former Minister of Health, on July 13, 2021.” The hospital website reads in part.