Calcutta, Dec. 3: The Opposition today made a robust charge on the government over frailties in the healthcare system, triggering a furore in the Assembly that ended with slogan-shouting Trinamul Congress MLAs staging a walkout and the health minister unveiling a new cadre to administer state hospitals.
The Assembly passed the West Bengal State Health Service (Second Amendment) Bill, 2003, to create a new cadre — the public health-cum-administrative service — in the health service.
At present, there are two cadres, the Medical Education Service for teaching doctors and the West Bengal Health Service for medical officers. Moving the bill, health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra said doctors who join the new service will look after the administrative affairs in hospitals.
Doctors in the different services may opt for the new service, which are non-practising posts. In that case, they will be offered a special pay package including three to six increments.
Trouble started earlier as soon as Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim entered the House. Almost all the Congress and Trinamul Congress legislators jumped to their feet and began raising slogans against poor treatment facilities. Some Trinamul MLAs rushed to the well of the House and demanded Mishra’s resignation.
Trinamul legislator Saugata Roy asked the minister what action the government has taken to treat emergency patients brought to the medical colleges. He also sought a list of steps his department has taken to improve infrastructure and provide better services to the patients.
Roy’s colleagues Ashoke Deb, Sonali Guha and Paresh Pal, as well as Congress chief whip Abdul Mannan, also demanded that Mishra quit over his failure to reach basic healthcare to the people.
The legislators were also vocal against the government’s move to restrict journalists from hospitals and ban rallies and protests on clinic premises.
The Trinamul MLAs walked out of the House after the Speaker rejected an adjournment motion brought by them on the “dismal healthcare system in the medical colleges’’.
The minister, who was silently watching the Opposition members, suddenly said: “You will not be benefited even if I resign.”
He told the House that the health department has issued an order to set up observation wards in all the medical colleges to provide treatment to emergency patients. He said it would take some time to set up such wards in all the medical institutions.
Mishra tried to pacify the agitated Opposition legislators saying the government has already taken up several projects to improve infrastructure and healthcare services.
He clarified that the government did not impose any ban on rallies inside hospitals.
“We discourage any kind of agitation inside the hospitals as it affects the patients and normal service is disturbed. We did not restrict entry of journalists, we have only requested them not to enter the wards without notice or permission,” Mishra said.
The Centre has sanctioned Rs 50 lakh each for development of the seven medical colleges in the state, director of medical education C.R. Maity said. The money will be used to upgrade the treatment facilities of mental patients.