The entrance to the Sick Newborn Care Unit at the district hospital in Jalpaiguri. Biplab Basak
June 19: The Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) at Jalpaiguri district hospital has been shut because of shortage of doctors to treat ailing babies.
Although sources at the hospital said the unit was shut on Monday “temporarily”, they could not say when the ward would be reopened.
The SNCU is supposed to have six doctors but has only two at present.
“As of now, we have only two doctors for the SNCU and it is not possible for us to keep the unit functional. The matter has been referred to the state health department in Calcutta. We are awaiting further instructions from their side,” said Jagannath Sarkar, the chief medical officer of health of Jalpaiguri.
“We cannot say exactly when the services will resume. There has to be adequate number of doctors to run the unit in a proper manner,” he said.
Doctors at the district hospital are now referring sick newborns to the SNCU at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri, around 60km from Jalpaiguri.
Four-five babies who were at the Jalpaiguri SNCU when the unit was shut were also referred to NBMCH.
The SNCU was opened in the Jalpaiguri district hospital in 2012 and a sum of Rs 55 lakh was spent on it.
“The 13-bed SNCU in Jalpiaguri district hospital became functional in April 2012. It was inaugurated by north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb. Since its inception, although six posts of doctors were created, there were five doctors at the SNCU,” a hospital source said.
The SNCU was fully functional for over two years but problems started from the middle of May this year when two of the five doctors resigned and left for higher studies.
Among the remaining three, one doctor went on leave on June 16 leaving only two doctors to take care of the babies at the unit. On the same day, the hospital authorities decided to stop admissions to the SNCU.
“The SNCU is a special care unit where babies need round-the-clock attention. For two doctors, it is not possible to run the unit round-the-clock,” said a senior doctor.
Parents of ailing babies have expressed disappointment over the decision. “We came here today with the baby of my brother. Doctors here referred the child to NBMCH, around 60km away,” said Laxman Sarkar, a local resident.