The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bloc in protest cry against doc
- Surgeon alleges assault
- Patient complains of inflated bill

Dinhata, March 21: A doctor here was allegedly assaulted for refusing to discharge a woman from a nursing home for non-payment of a bill.

Jyotsna Saha claimed that Snehangshu Mondal, the surgeon, had insisted that she get her gall bladder operated on at the nursing home, as it would be hard to get a date at the subdivisional hospital, where she was admitted initially because of abdominal pain. Though the doctor had promised, Jyotsna said, that the operation would cost her only Rs 5,000, she was asked to pay up Rs 12,360 at the time of discharge. “But when I said I could not pay the bill, I was not allowed to leave the nursing home,” alleged Jyotsna.

Mondal, on the other hand, has filed a police complaint stating that he was beaten up by a mob, which also ransacked his chamber. Two active members of the Forward Bloc have been named in the FIR.

The result of the fiasco is that the district administration is in a fix since the Association of Health Services Doctors has refused to take responsibility for a breakdown in health services, a possibility they have threatened with, if the two Bloc leaders are not arrested.

In turn, the Bloc has warned the administration of an agitation if Mondal is not transferred within 48 hours.

Cooch Behar district magistrate Rajesh Kumar said he has asked the chief medical officer of health (CMOH) to submit the details of the case. “I will not let the health services collapse,” Kumar said.

Jyotsna, who is 56, was admitted to the subdivisional hospital on March 9 with abdominal pain. “I was admitted under Dr Mondal and despite the hospital having an ultrasonography machine, I was made to undergo the scan at a private clinic. After that, I was diagnosed with stones in my gall bladder,” said Jyotsna.

She claimed that on Mondal’s insistence she got herself admitted in the nursing home on March 17. She was operated upon the next day.

Trouble started yesterday at the time of discharge. “We were handed a bill for Rs 12,360. When we refused to pay, they did not allow my mother to leave the nursing home. It was then that I informed Jaideep Ghosh, a Bloc leader,” alleged Bhabol Saha, Jyotsna’s son. Bhabol is the cleaner of a bus owned by Ghosh.

The nursing home finally discharged Jyotsna — she was supposed to leave at 10am — at 2pm. Bhabol, however, claimed that he paid the nursing home a part of the money (but refused to specify the amount). Ghosh then went to meet Mondal so that an understanding could be arrived at.

“Ghosh and another Bloc member, Kamal Barman, arrived at my house and started abusing me. They slapped me and pushed me around after which I complained to the police,” alleged Mondal. He claimed that the patient’s relatives refused to pay the sum agreed upon at the time of admission.

Once news of the police complaint became public, Bloc supporters went to the doctor’s chamber at Godhuli Bazaar last evening, and ransacked it. “The police came and rescued me,” Mondal claimed.

A protest rally led by Udayan Guha, the son of veteran Bloc leader Kamal Guha, arrived at the hospital at 11am today. “If the physician is not removed, we will launch an intense movement. Why should poor patients be lured out of government hospitals'” Guha said.

S.K. Sil, the CMOH, said an inquiry committee will look into the matter. “We will get a clear picture once the panel gives us a report as to whether or not the patient needed to be shifted from the subdivisional hospital,” Sil said.

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