The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Eye doctor duo in dire distress
- National Medical ophthalmology wing hit by shortage of hands

It’s a case of critical care in a critical condition. There are 200 patients to be treated in the outdoor department and another 115 in the wards; over 20 operations are to be conducted; classes to be taken where 150 students are waiting for their lectures; and a polyclinic to be attended to. This is the daily workload of the ophthalmology department of Calcutta National Medical College. And, there are only two doctors to see it through.

The state of the department is a stark reflection of the shoddy way healthcare is run from Writers’ Buildings.

For the past few months, professor Jyotirmoy Dutta, head of the department (ophthalmology), and professor Debasish Dutta have been running from classroom to operation theatre and then to the wards every day, and occasionally pleading with Writers’ Buildings to sanction a few more hands.

On Thursday, the duo decided at a meeting that it had had enough. Jyotirmoy Dutta shot off a letter to director of medical education C.R. Maity, seeking more doctors “urgently” to prevent the healthcare infrastructure from collapsing. The department’s strength was reduced four months ago from five doctors to two after the government transferred three to the districts.

Over 200 patients queue up at the outdoor department from 8.30 in the morning. But the wait is long. The doctors also have to spare time for their daily rounds in the wards, where several in the 115 beds require post-operative attention.

“It gets very difficult at times, especially with the 20-odd major and minor operations to conduct every day. But we are managing somehow. We need more hands,” Jyotirmoy Dutta told Metro. The operations vary from cataract to cancer to glaucoma and IOL implant. Several of them are critical cases.

Medical education director Maity claimed he was not aware of the doctors’ plight. “Let them approach me. I will definitely give them more personnel,” he asserted.

Hardest hit are the students preparing for their MBBS. With the two professors unable to spare time for lecture sessions, the students have to depend on medical books alone. “I don’t know how, but they still manage to take some classes in the week, which is not enough for us,” said a group at the college.

The polyclinics start from 3 pm, and the doctor duo must finish in time for the clinics, and then the students who come in batches of 12 every day for practical classes.

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