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Safety first for hospital heads

After giving SSKM surgeon superintendent Debdwaipayan Chattopadhyay a clean chit over the Subrata Mukherjee imbroglio and assuring him that no steps will be taken against him, the state health directorate is planning to approach the government for steps to prevent VIPs from arbitrarily entering hospitals and creating a ruckus.

Senior health officials said on Friday that if the issue was not addressed immediately, superintendents of hospitals would be denied a proper work atmosphere.

“We have to do something about it immediately. There should be some norms protecting a hospital superintendent or any other health official managing a medical establishment,” said director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee.

Supervising arrangements at B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children, which Union health minister Shatrughan Sinha is scheduled to visit on Saturday, Chatterjee said he would take up the matter with health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra and health secretary Asim Barman.

Subrata Mukherjee had stormed into the office of the SSKM surgeon superintendent last week to protest the alleged delay in admitting a patient sent by him. Mukherjee also charged Chattopadhyay with misbehaviour and blocked conservancy services at the hospital. The garbage was removed after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee intervened.

Chattopadhyay was also accused of not offering the mayor a seat. He, however, apologised to the mayor the next day.

Summoned by chief secretary S.N. Roy a few days ago, Chattopadhyay narrated the incident to him and on his instructions, submitted his version in writing to the health secretary.

Health secretary Barman on Thursday discussed the matter with minister Mishra and later absolved the SSKM superintendent of any wrongdoing.

Infuriated, mayor Mukherjee said on Friday he would move a privilege motion in the ensuing Assembly session. “How can the government announce the innocence of a person who has apologised to me in writing' I don’t want to make any further comment. The issue will be settled in the Assembly,” he added.

The health services director, who witnessed the fracas in Chattopadhyay’s office, however, said the allegations against the SSKM superintendent were not tenable. “There was no delay in admitting the patient. He was brought here from a nursing home. When the mayor stormed into the superintendent’s office, the patient had already been admitted to SSKM,” he added.

Health officials said hospital superintendents were often gheraoed by patients’ families and political leaders. Unless the government did something immediately, the morale of health administrators will be affected, they felt. “There have been many incidents in which the superintendents have been beaten up by goons backed by political leaders. There should be some kind of guideline to put an end to it,” an official said.

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