The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scapegoat shadow on super

Doctors, some of them colleagues of Anup Mandal, superintendent of B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children, on Thursday said the three-member committee probing the deaths at the hospital should not unnecessarily victimise him.

They felt that even though Mandal had violated service rules by talking to the media and highlighting the ills that prevail in the healthcare system at the hospital without his superior’s clearance, he should not be put in the dock as the “only culprit”.

The committee, constituted by director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee, has, in the preliminary report, accused Mandal of talking to the media without the permission of the authorities at Writers’ Buildings. Health department sources said the three-member committee, comprising senior health officers Manohar Pal, Aniruddha Kar and Madhabi Das, pulled up Mandal for not being able to handle the crisis adequately and highlighting only the negative sides of the hospital to the media.

The report came down on the superintendent for not discussing the problems prevailing in the hospital with his colleagues and failing to project himself as a team-man. The report stressed his lack of “inter-personal relationship” with colleagues. “But, we know that when Mandal pointed out the weaknesses in the infrastructure, he was not being totally dishonest to the medical profession and was not talking through his hat. We, as hospital administrators, often face these problems,” said the superintendent of a prominent medical college and hospital in Calcutta.

He felt that Mandal might be made a scapegoat, as what he said to the media about the shortcomings in the hospital infrastructure, like the lack of oxygen and adequate number of beds, ultimately was the responsibility of the state government.

A doctor at the nearby B.C. Roy Polio Clinic for Crippled Children said there was some truth in Mandal’s statement that the number of oxygen cylinders was inadequate, as often at least 35 to 40 oxygen cylinders are held back by suppliers because of non-payment of dues.

“We don’t feel the deaths of the children were due to managerial failure because every day, five to six children die at the hospital, as is normal in any referral hospital. The death rates in a referral hospital and a health centre cannot be the same,” said one of Mandal’s colleagues.

Indian Medical Association (IMA) president Subir Ganguly said: “If we find an IMA member is being victimised, we will surely look into the matter.”

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