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‘Irregular’ doctors locked up for three hours
- Villagers in Birbhum gherao physicians at health centre where casual worker ‘treats’ patients

Rampurhat, Oct. 10: Two doctors were locked up inside a Birbhum health centre for three hours by villagers who alleged medics don’t come to the facility regularly and a casual worker treats patients in their absence.

The officiating chief medical officer (CMOH) of Birbhum, Arunlal Mondal, said there was no permanent doctor at the health centre in Nalhati’s Baidara village as the person who was posted there was transferred to the Rampurhat subdivisional hospital two months ago.

“There is no regular doctor at the health centre. When the doctor does not come, a casual worker treats patients with fever, cold and stomach problems. He prescribes medicines too. Three doctors come here by rotation but they are irregular. They come according to their whims. So we locked up two doctors who came today after five days,” said Arjun Hansda, a resident of Tarakadighi village in Nalhati.

Villagers said that about 30 years ago, some residents had donated 15 bighas for setting up the health centre, which serves about 5,000 people of 10 villages.

“We were told that each of the three doctors would come to the health centre twice a week. But there is no doctor here for more than two days a week. Casual worker Munser Ali gives us medicines for basic ailments. In case of critical cases, we have to take the patients to the subdivisional hospital 16km away,” said Netai Roy, a resident of Baidara.

When two doctors came to the health centre at 11 this morning, around 100 villagers gheraoed them.

One of the doctors, Manaswi Roy, a medical officer of Rampurhat subdivisional hospital, said: “I am posted at the Rampurhat subdivisional hospital. I have to come to the health centre twice a week according to the verbal instructions of the CMOH office. It is difficult for me to attend the health centre twice a week because of my work at the hospital.”

The other doctor, Subrata Ghosh, refused comment.

Arunlal Mondal, the officiating CMOH of Birbhum, said: “Swastha Bhavan ordered the transfer of the regular doctor at the health centre. So we asked three doctors attached to the subdivisional hospital to run the health centre.”

Ramit Dey, who was transferred from the health centre two months ago, said: “I still visit the health centre.”

Asked about what he is supposed to do at the health centre, casual worker Ali said: “I collect throat swabs and sputum of tuberculosis patients and take them to Rampurhat and Suri hospitals.”

Dey denied the allegation that Ali treated patients. “Munser helps us during treatment. He does not stand in for the doctors.”