The state government on Saturday set off to mend its healthcare sector with a meeting of health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra with officials.
Mishra met senior officials of the public works department along with superintendents and principals of teaching hospitals at Writers’ Buildings to work out ways in which the health sector infrastructure could be revamped. While most of the measures have already been announced, Saturday’s meeting chalked out ways in which these would be implemented. “We have discussed mostly pending and ongoing projects on repairs, maintenance and renovation of state-run hospitals,” Mishra said.
The six-point agenda of the meet comprised the following:
• Three wings of the PWD — two civil and one electrical — will be directly brought under the health department to speed up maintenance of city hospitals.
• The government requires an additional Rs 15 crore for 119 ongoing renovation schemes in teaching hospitals, 59 of which have either been completed or are underway. Another 42 schemes have been identified, for which Rs 15 crore is essential. The government has already decided to take a loan of Rs 60 crore from Hudco. The minister has asked authorities of teaching hospitals to prepare a priority list of projects as per Medical Council of India’s suggestions. These would then be sent to PWD by November-end.
• The government also worked its way towards forming a centralised control room in Calcutta where information on bed availability, among other things, would be provided. “A computerised system has already been started at SSKM Hospital. We want the same system to be present in all other teaching hospitals,” the health minister said.
• Five bureaucrats, including two IAS officers, have been assigned charge of maintaining administrative and financial discipline at SSKM, Medical College and Hospital, National Medical College and Hospital, Nilratan Sirkar and RG Kar Hospital.
• The government will appoint the Sainik Board to supervise security of all state-run teaching hospitals by November. The arrangement has been initiated in some hospitals.
• Superintendents of teaching hospitals have been given a free hand to take decisions about and spend on maintenance of medical equipment.
A worried chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said at Mahajati Sadan on Saturday: “City hospitals are under immense pressure despite our efforts to improve rural hospitals. We will see that patients are not unnecessarily referred to other hospitals.” Demonstrations would not be allowed inside hospitals at any cost, he added.
Mishra also reiterated that agitations within hospitals would not be tolerated, not even by hospital staff. “Hospitals are not factories. We appeal to all political parties to refrain from creating disturbance in hospitals.”
Mishra added that some political parties were purposefully alleging that the healthcare system in Bengal had collapsed “because their parties are collapsing”.
However the Opposition seems to be in no mood to keep off hospital grounds. Trinamul Congress general secretary Mukul Roy said on Saturday: “How can the government restrict people in this manner' If a patient dies due to negligence, or is denied admission, then such protests are inevitable. But we don’t intend to disturb patients.”