The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teething trouble in trauma care
- Minister admits slip-ups, pledges help to speed up hospital

Take a look at these facts:

nMore than 450 deaths a year from street accidents

n374 deaths already recorded till October 31 this year

nAt least 500 or more suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder

Reality says most of these deaths can be avoided, if only the city had a proper trauma-care hospital. Sources said that doctors are aware of the need for such a hospital. So are the police. In fact, trauma-care classes have been made compulsory of late, but is the government listening'

From foundation ceremonies to announcements of state-of-the-art trauma-care hospitals in the city, the government had done it all in the past few years, but so far, the hospital has not arrived.

Last July, Pijush Banerjee, 35, a resident of Chetla, sustained a fracture on his left leg in a road accident and was rushed from one private hospital to the other, before he was finally treated at a government hospital. An otherwise healthy person, Pijush has recently developed stress, high blood pressure and an acute pain in the chest. He is under the treatment of cardiologist Prakash Hazra. “Apart from taking medicines, he is also undergoing counselling. If Pijush was treated for trauma-care immediately after the accident, he would not have developed heart ailments,” says Hazra.

Another cardiac specialist, Tarun Praharaj, says that patients who suffer from severe trauma can develop ailments like angina and insomnia which, if ignored, can prove dangerous.

Although trauma hospitals are part of a state’s basic healthcare policy, little has been done to address the problem. Of late, health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, flooded with requests to do something about the growing problem, has initiated a move to set up trauma-care government hospitals in the city.

“There were talks of some proposals but at that time, I was not handling the health portfolio. I am definitely keen on setting up such a hospital, which will benefit the state,” Mishra told Metro.

Two-and-half-years ago, a Rs 12-crore project to set up Calcutta’s first trauma-care centre at SSKM Hospital was declared, amidst much fanfare by the government. A separate plot was allocated on the SSKM premises to set up the new centre, with plans to rope in eminent specialists from Mumbai and New Delhi.

Weeks later, the project files disappeared mysteriously. The fiasco at SSKM Hospital is just an example of how the state government had ignored similar facilities at NRS Medical College and Hospital, Sambhunath Pandit Hospital and other government/private venture projects, simply because they were not viable and would not fetch the government any revenue.

“It is true that these projects were shelved earlier, because the government felt that investing in cardio-thoracic surgery would be a better option,” said a senior health department official, requesting anonymity.

Asia Heart Foundation, of which cardiac surgeon Devi Shetty is chairman, had come forward with a proposal to set up a composite trauma-care facility in the joint sector with the state government.

SSKM Hospital was initially chosen as the seat of the super-speciality trauma centre, but later, the government wanted the facility to come up inside the NRS Hospital.

However, with no concrete action on the part of the state authorities for months, Shetty and his Foundation have finalised plans for an “everything-under-one-roof” trauma centre on its Mukundapur campus, with the help of the Armenian Church.

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