The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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When doctors go missing, so does patient

Behrampore, Oct. 25: Writhing in pain, 25-year-old Tarun Kumar Das travelled 75 km from Nimtita village in Shamshergunj to Behrampore New General Hospital on Friday.

A doctor examined him that night and a nurse put him on saline drip. He then lay for three days without treatment. This morning, Das had had enough. He quietly packed his bag and simply walked out of the hospital to get himself admitted to a nursing home.

The premier hospital of Murshidabad, about 200 km from Calcutta, apparently had only four out of 13 doctors working during the Puja.

The district health authorities today ordered an inquiry into patients' allegations that there weren't enough doctors to see them when the state was busy in festivities.

The operation theatres were closed during the period as most surgeons were on leave.

Dilip Kumar Mondal, the district's acting chief medical officer of health, said: 'It is really embarrassing for us if a patient walks out of a hospital for treatment elsewhere. We have already initiated a probe into the absence of doctors, particularly the surgeons, during the Puja. Action will be taken against those guilty.'

Eleven-year-old Nandan Mondal arrived at the hospital with pain in the region of the appendix last Thursday. Like Das, he was on saline drip and painkillers till the surgeons returned. He was operated on this morning.

'My brother had to suffer for four days as the operation theatre was closed,' said Shefali, his elder sister.

Jalal Sheikh, who brought here his 80-year-old mother Khadija in a critical condition from the Khargram block hospital, had to go to a nursing home after being told about the shortage of doctors.

'My mother was admitted to the block hospital for four days. There were no doctors there. Here, too, I found that most doctors were on leave and took my mother to a nursing home. But it is costly there,' said Jalal.

Superintendent Ananda Mondal, who joined the general hospital three weeks ago, was also embarrassed. 'I never thought such a thing could happen. I am new here but will try my best to ensure that it is not repeated,' he said.

A district health official said there are five surgeons at the 300-bed hospital, of whom three were on leave from the start of the Puja. Another went on leave from Ashtami.

He added: 'There was only one surgeon, T.K. Ghosh, to cope with over 50 patients in the surgical ward. The OT was closed. So no operation took place during the four Puja days. Normal hospital services resumed today.'

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