The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt reads emergency riot act to hospitals

Calcutta, June 2: The state government today indicated that “strong action” would be taken against private hospitals which insist on payment before emergency admissions and do not follow a directive to maintain a full-fledged system to deal with patients at night.

“The rules are in place, but they must be followed by the hospitals. We have taken action against a few private hospitals in the past on grounds of turning away emergency patients and there is no reason why we won’t do it again,” state health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra said today.

His statement followed an expose in The Telegraph Metro which showed several hospitals insisting on payment to admit a patient to the emergency ward. Some others refused admission because “no beds were available”.

It was also found that most hospitals did not have a proper back-up facility to deal with patients suffering from multiple problems at night.

Mishra said the government had not been able to take action against “errant” hospitals in the recent past “as no one bothered to lodge complaints with us”. “However, now that a newspaper has brought the situation before us, it would help us to streamline the health sector,” Mishra added.

C.R. Maiti, the director of medical education, and Prabhakar Chatterjee, the director of health services, today discussed the issue with officials. “We had taken strict action against some hospitals and even cancelled the licence of one or two on these very grounds. We will discuss the survey report with the minister in detail now,” said Chatterjee.

Maiti said it was “unfortunate that people always target government-run hospitals, despite the fact that they have to cater to hundreds of patients every night. Private hospitals are always spared because they are considered to provide excellent service. But they too have some very serious faults,” he added.

Member hospitals of the Association of Hospitals of Eastern India have decided to meet to discuss setting up trauma centres to tackle emergency cases, particularly after midnight. The first to open such a trauma centre will be Ruby General Hospital. The centre, according to Sajal Dutta, the hospital managing director and the association president, will have facilities to tackle neurological, cardiac and other complications at odd hours.

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