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Exodus blame on hospitals

The government on Friday blamed the exodus of patients to other metros on the city’s leading private hospitals. It also called for a meeting to devise ways for improving healthcare.

State health minister Surya Kanta Mishra said he would meet representatives of the private hospitals on Saturday to address the issues of patient exodus and health insurance.

“I want to make two things very clear,” Mishra told Metro. “The exodus of patients has to end and the blame for it lies with the private hospitals, not the government,” the minister said. The poor quality of healthcare facilities in the private hospitals in Calcutta drive away patients to other metros, where the morbidity rate is no less, despite an advanced healthcare system, Mishra said after inaugurating a three-dimensional treatment facility at the radiotherapy wing of Medical College and Hospital.

“Private hospitals must improve the quality of healthcare in the city. They must realise that competition is between private groups in Calcutta and the more advanced ones in other metros, where most of the patients are headed,” Mishra said.

The health minister is scheduled to meet representatives of the Association of Hospitals of Eastern India (AHEI) — an amalgamation of nine premier private hospitals (Woodlands, B.M. Birla, AMRI-Apollo, Belle-Vue, Kothari, Ruby, CMRI, Peerless and Westbank) and discuss the exodus, along with possible steps to counter it. “I have told them before also that the exodus has to stop and the commitment to healthcare has to improve,” said Mishra.

The minister’s criticism of private hospital groups comes at a time when Calcuttans are increasingly opting for better health facilities in cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Vellore. The bigger private hospitals in Calcutta have to bank on revenue earnings from patients coming in from eastern India and Bangladesh.

Confirming Saturday’s meeting with the minister, AHEI chairman Ananda Mallick admitted that “patient exodus was a big problem” and the association was committed to address it.

“We are working on a plan to counter the exodus and we will share our views with the minister. We strongly believe that Calcuttans must be informed that we have the infrastructure and the expertise to handle critical cases,” Mallick said.

“The minister is right when he says that the quality of healthcare must improve in the city’s private hospitals. The association has already achieved a lot in this regard. We even ask doctors to follow up with patients more regularly and keep a tab on their health… Doctors, too, must realise that they have to stand up and be counted.”

Earlier, the minister said the government was working on proposals to improve infrastructure in government hospitals. He added that he had not shelved the idea of providing more autonomy to government hospitals, so they can receive foreign grants.

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