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B.C. Roy staff pay, but not for deaths

There was “nothing abnormal” about the death of 14 babies in a span of 48 hours, state health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra had announced a day after the tragedy at the B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children.

On Thursday, Mishra announced that there was “nothing abnormal” about the transfer of B.C. Roy superintendent Anup Mandal, and several other senior staff members of the hospital, though “none of the deaths could have been prevented”.

The “punitive action”, he said, was because of “managerial lapses” and had nothing to do with the deaths. There was no explanation why Mandal was allowed to remain in his post for 10 years, despite his administrative “deficiencies”.

No one mentioned that it was Mandal who had informed the media that there was nothing he could have done to prevent the deaths, given the “shabby infrastructure” of the hospital. He had even said that “repeated pleas” to the government to “rectify” the situation had fallen on deaf ears.

But on Thursday, Mishra informed the media that steps have finally been taken to rectify the situation and the first of them was the transfer of the hospital officials. The next step would be the chargesheets that would be slapped on them. “It is not the failure of the system but lapses of individuals,” Mishra added.

The lack of incubators was explained as something that was “not required in hospitals in tropical countries”.

He maintained that the probe team had “identified certain deficiencies in the management of the hospital and its services, though this had nothing to do with the death of the children”. Had these deficiencies been addressed properly, Mishra said, “there could have been no scope for dissatisfaction among relatives of the patients.”

Mishra said that the Group D staff did not carry out their duties. Instead of taking the oxygen cylinders to the patients, they left the task to the nursing staff. “This is not their job and this practice should not have been encouraged,” he said.

The finger-pointing exercise over, Mishra unveiled plans to refurbish the hospital. Sunil Baran Pal, associate professor of the paediatric department of Chittaranjan Seva Sadan, has been appointed medical superintendent of the hospital. Besides, a paediatric ventilator and “other equipment” have been or are being procured. Being a teaching hospital, the post of principal has also been created.

Mishra announced a proposal for an annexe building, with an intensive neo-natal care unit and a critical care unit for babies.

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