The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Liftman lash on doctor

Calcutta, Sept. 5: A doctor at Nil Ratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital was beaten up by group-D employees for daring to ask why none of the six lifts was working.

Amar ichchhe, tai lift cholbe na (The lift won’t move as I don’t want it to move),” a liftman, identified as Manoranjan Dhara alias Mana, told the doctor before assaulting him with the help of group-D colleagues.

Patients and their relatives suffer daily at the hands of hospital employees. Today’s incident started with a senior health department official at the centre.

Sandip Bera, the official from Bankura, came to the hospital around 10 this morning with pain in his chest but waited for 45 minutes on the ground floor because the lifts were not working and he could not climb the stairs in his condition.

His destination was the second floor of the six-storeyed gynaecological building, which houses several departments, where he wished to be examined by a doctor-friend.

Even three of the lifts inaugurated this year with fanfare and showcased as the government’s commitment to patients stood still.

On enquiry, he learnt that the lifts were stationary most of the time. “Wait for your luck to change” was what Bera was told when he said he couldn’t climb the stairs.

He waited till 10.45, when he was recognised by a doctor who is a member of the NRS house staff. The liftman “on duty” arrived around 11, following which the fracas occurred.

When the doctor identified himself as being from the same hospital, he was told by the liftman not to “throw your (his) weight around”.

Oi sab daktar-faktar amader dekhaben na (Don’t give us all that doctor business),” the mob of group-D staff said.

Doctors later complained to hospital superintendent Shyamal Rudra, who admitted that an “unpleasant exchange” had taken place between group-D staff and doctors.

Senior physicians in the hospital say the incident was unique only in that a protest had been lodged. Most of the time, patients have to climb the stairs.

A common pretext group-D staff use to explain the immobile lifts is a placard announcing “under repair”.

“You can understand what stationary lifts mean for patients coming to the gynaecological building,” a senior physician said. “Women with labour pains have to be wheeled up and others are made to walk up,” an intern added.

But that is during the day. At night, the building becomes inaccessible in the absence of the lifts as all the collapsible gates —to the different floors — are locked.

“Those on night duty enter the wards before the gates are locked but that means they cannot come down even if a call on a mobile phone informs them that someone back home is dying,” a member of the nursing staff said.

Senior hospital officials admitted that Writers’ Buildings had been petitioned several times, following complaints from doctors about the non-functioning lifts, but nothing had come out of the repeated appeals.

“We are particularly unhappy with the working of the public works department wing but it appears that the government’s work culture and do-it-now slogans are just that, slogans,” one of them said.


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