The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Physicians fight space crunch
- Lack of accommodation for doctors hits healthcare at hospitals

§ Arpita and Kaberi (both names changed), two MR Bangur Hospital resident medical officers (RMOs), were given a gynaecological ward cabin to share, in the absence of proper accommodation. One argument led to another and the boyfriend of one (also an RMO) allegedly beat up the other’s some weeks ago. The authorities tried to sort out the matter but another assault took place on Tuesday. The tiff between the two RMOs has now reached a police station (Jadavpur) and a minister (backward classes welfare minister Upen Kisku).

§ An additional director of health services, who left his post at Medical College and Hospital (MCH) a year ago, is yet to vacate his quarters, though he does not stay there. Consequently, current hospital superintendent Kusum Kumar Adhikari is being forced to stay outside the campus.

Arpita and Kaberi of MR Bangur are not the only government doctors fretting over where to spend the next night. Nor is the senior health department official the only one appropriating space that is not his. As a result, all teaching hospitals of the city (MCH, Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital, NRS Medical College and Hospital, RG Kar Medical College and Hospital and SSKM Hospital) and some other important healthcare institutions (MR Bangur and Sambhunath Pandit) are facing a severe space-crunch. And some officials retain hospital accommodation, according to their colleagues, for their ‘night parties’.

Doctors taking over patients’ cabins is no longer enough and the quality of service is suffering. “There have been reports of critical patients’ relatives not being able to find the RMO,” said an official. Indian Medical Association joint secretary (headquarters) R.D. Dubey has said the government must stop blaming RMOs for their absence from hospitals till it was able to provide them with a place to stay. Medical Service Centre spokesperson Motilal Giri added: “The government should think of doctors’ accommodation before drawing up transfer lists.”

Director of medical education Chittaranjan Maity, acknowledging that doctors’ accommodation was “one of the more serious problems we are grappling with”, promised “a drive” to tackle the problem. “But at the same time, one must keep in mind that it is not possible to provide accommodation on campus to every doctor,” he clarified.

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