The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hi-tech pill for basic ills
- Bedcount scan after boy death

A for attitude; B for basics. Overlooking the obvious problem with one and an appalling lack of the other, the government presented a hi-tech prescription to tackle the problem of admission thrown into sharp focus by the death of 13-year-old Prasanna Mondol.

The snakebite victim from Burdwan died at Nilratan Sirkar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital on Friday night after SSKM and Sambhunath Pandit Hospital refused to admit him as they had no beds to spare. When his body was taken out of the NRS morgue, on Saturday, parts of his face and hands were found devoured by rodents.

Reacting to the teenager death, director of medical education C.R. Maity said: “Strict instructions have been given to all hospitals that they cannot refuse any patient, but I guess the order is not being followed. We are trying to find out what happened in this particular case.”

An emergency meeting of all hospital chiefs involved in the case will be convened this week, health department officials said.

Unveiling the government’s grand technological plans, Maity said the use of Internet and a hotline among hospitals was where the answer lay. “All hospitals will share information about occupancy and constantly update data about beds available so that no patient is turned away. We have plenty of government hospitals here and I am sure a patient can easily be accommodated in one of them at most given times,” he added.

Few seemed convinced by the government’s grand tech plans. “Let the government first improve basic things like the attitude of the staff towards patients before talking Internet and all that. We have been hearing of a hotline for some time, but nothing has come about,” said R.D. Dubey, joint secretary (headquarters) of Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Malay Patra, secretary of IMA’s Bengal branch, drew attention to the malfunctioning giant electronic display boards at some hospitals to announce status of beds. “Unless the government starts improving the basic facilities, the future of hospital-patient relationship is doomed,” warned Patra.

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