The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Diary to keep check on work-shy district clinics

Calcutta, Oct. 28: A week ago, Aparna Das, 27, was rushed to the Barasat Hospital in an advanced stage of pregnancy. Doctors there refused to admit Aparna and referred her to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, where she gave birth to a boy. Authorities at the medical college registered a complaint with the health ministry saying the referral was unnecessary.

Admitting that hospitals around Calcutta were referring “easy cases” to the multi-speciality hospitals in the city, health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra has finally decided to crack the whip.

The minister today asked his officials to compile a list of “errant” hospitals in the districts that are referring patients on flimsy grounds. Once the list is ready, the government will pull up the hospital superintendents and officials involved in the referral.

Mishra told The Telegraph that he has asked his department “to take things very seriously” and ensure that “the referral protocols” are not flouted. “This is indeed a problem and we are trying to streamline the process so that city hospitals do not face the enormous pressure that they now have to,” he said.

The hospitals today began keeping diaries with details of referred cases so that their exact figure can be calculated at the end of a month and the offenders identified. “We have decided to detect these hospitals and take appropriate measures,” said director of health services Prabhakar Chatterje.

Every month, about 250 cases land in the top five government hospitals in the city from district hospitals and health centres. Most of the cases, health officials said, involve fever, pregnancy, food poisoning, dysentery and common cold, which are easy to treat.

With the “no-refusal” directive from Writers’ Buildings in the wake of the deaths of Susmita Biswas and Shabana Parveen, the city hospitals are left with no choice but to admit all.

The authorities of NRS Medical College and Hospital, R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital, SSKM Hospital and Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital have appealed to the health minister saying they are finding the going tough.

They pointed out that a hospital like Calcutta Medical College, near the city centre, gets “non-complex” referred cases from hospitals in Kalyani, Barasat, Bongaon and Basirhat in North 24-Parganas. “All these cases should be going to R.G. Kar (in north Calcutta),” said a senior official.

NRS gets patients referred from Arambagh, Howrah and hospitals in Hooghly. “Patients from these places should not come to us as NRS is the referral centre for the 24-Parganas. But we keep getting non-serious patients from other districts making it impossible to bear the pressure,” said Shyamal Rudra, the NRS superintendent.

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