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The specialist

Sir — There is always plenty to learn from the column, “Eye On England”, by Amit Roy. One can only marvel at his infinite knowledge-span — from kebabs to socialites in England, especially the Pauls, Hindujas and Hoons. Roy also knows a lot about English public schools and lately, Indian history. He has taken Sir David Ochterlony in a time machine two hundred years back to the royal court of Akbar (I presume, the Great Mughal), where Sir David has been appointed by Roy as the resident agent for the East India Company (“From monument to mangoes”, Nov 2). How long do we have to suffer semi-literates churning out ignorant banalities on a Sunday' Roy himself suggests “Milk of Magnesia tablets” are a good way to purge pretensions. A few extra pills will certainly not be an overdose.

Yours faithfully,
Susanta Ghosh, Calcutta


Hospital hoopla

Sir — It is sad that junior doctors of the R.G. Kar Hospital chose to vent their anger on patients’ kin and on reporters (“Besieged doctors cripple hospital”, Nov 3). Laymen are poor judges of medical malpractice and negligence. Two, such violence never leads to any let-up in the malpractices. Protest against negligence in a civilized manner by all means, but don’t beat up doctors. Doctors are human beings too, and make every effort to save a patient. Junior doctors, especially, are the backbone of a hospital. They have to combat disease, as well as anti-social elements, political leaders and lack of basic medicines and amenities.

The policemen’s defiance of the chief minister’s order to arrest trouble-makers in hospitals, comes as no surprise. Time and again, junior doctors have been promised more security and improved infrastructure but nothing has come of it. Instead of simply blaming doctors for the ills of our healthcare system, we urgently need to beef up services and improve infrastructure.

Negligent doctors however should not be spared. Under section 304A of the Indian Penal Code, a vigilance cell should be set up to look into complaints against errant doctors. Medical councils must also initiate action against such doctors, if found guilty

Yours faithfully,
Sankar Lal Singh, Calcutta


Sir — The events at the R.G. Kar Hospital expose, once again, the reprehensible character of doctors in West Bengal. Though there is no denying the state government’s pitiful record in the health sector, the erosion of basic humanity in many of our healers largely explains the abysmal state of healthcare today.

But assaulting a few junior doctors, who are easily accessible in hospitals and who merely follow their seniors’ orders, will not stop the pervasive medical negligence. We need to understand why the otherwise peace-loving citizens, resort to violence against erring doctors.

Neither the West Bengal Medical Council nor the government does anythiing to punish errant doctors. It is also not possible to move the courts against a delinquent physician without corroborative evidence from other doctors. Frustration at not getting justice often drives citizens into violence.

Yours faithfully,
Kunal Saha, Columbus, US


Sir — The strike by junior doctors of government hospitals will only worsen matters. The government needs to do something to restore discipline and work culture, or else Calcuttans will go to Chennai and Bangalore for their medical needs instead. With good private hospitals coming up all over, very soon even ordinary citizens will prefer these instead of going to government ones to save a few bucks.

Yours faithfully,
T.R. Anand, Calcutta


Sir — An MBBS student is generally a young person from a respectable family, with a good academic record. If he is suddenly branded a troublemaker and his picture splashed all over the newspapers, something is certainly wrong somewhere. A young doctor has a tough schedule of 8-10 hours in college in addition to 12-18 hours in the wards, where he has to learn to deal with the ecstasy of birth as well as the shock of death. Interns are busy at work while the rest of the city may be busy celebrating the pujas. Journalists’ urge to search for the truth must be respected, but the job of a doctor is not easy, since even a single mistake can turn fatal.

Yours faithfully,
Soumendranarayan Maitra, Calcutta


Sir — Ashok V. Desai was on the right track until he became anxious to provide a solution (“Incongruent expectations”, Nov 4). His diagnosis was right but his medicines were not. The public may expect services in government hospitals to improve in some distant future, but they do not suffer from any illusion that the state government will delegate powers to a non-political person to function independently. Let the different tribes of cats rule the hospitals in West Bengal with the mice at the helm.

Yours faithfully,
Sekhar Basu Mallik, Calcutta


Sir — Healthcare provisions were never commensurate with the needs of the state. With the number of people requiring its services increasing manifold, the infrastructure has not kept pace. This has made the job of doctors more complicated. Corruption and negligence have always been there, but their extent has increased enormously. This is primarily owing to the increase in the power of the unions who protect their members without any consideration for patients, much less dedication to duty and discipline.

The government does not desire any change in health services — the only solution in the present impasse — or it would not have slumbered for the last 26 years. But now the callous administration is having to reckon with an expose by the media — hence the attack on mediapersons.

Yours faithfully,
Asit Kumar Mitra, Calcutta


Sir — It is unfortunate that the medical fraternity is being victimized by the media to meet its narrow end of increasing circulation by serving spiced-up stories. Does the media ever care for the poor doctors who provide indispensable services — at times for 24 to 48 hrs at a stretch and under terrible conditions' Did the media highlight the fact that the chaos at the R.G. Kar Hospital on Saturday started with a lone house-staff being rounded up by 50 of a patients’ relatives and that he could have sustained grave injuries had he not been rescued by colleagues and friends. Do you expect the junior doctors to still feel benevolent when they get such mortifying behaviour in return'

Yours faithfully,
S. Ganguly, via email


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