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Govt absentee rap on north hospital

Siliguri, Aug. 13: North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb today said strong action, possibly deduction of salaries, would be taken against doctors, nurses and other staff members who frequently remain absent from duty at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH).

Deb, who held a meeting with the heads of departments of the hospital, principal Samir Ghosh Roy and superintendent Sabyasachi Das, said a circular would be distributed in all 27 departments asking their heads to submit status reports on the attendance of doctors, nurses and Group D staff in the past six months. The reports will have to be given within the next seven days.

The move to tighten the attendance noose on doctors and other hospital staff has come at a time the referral facility is tackling many cases of suspected Japanese Encephalitis, which is believed to be the cause of over 150 deaths in north Bengal since January.

On August 7, a section of junior doctors in the hospital had called a strike to protest the suspension of the principal Anup Kumar Roy.

Four days later, students and junior doctors had held a protest over the transfer of 19 teachers in the middle of the academic session.

The August 7 strike call was supported by non-Trinamul staff and junior doctors’ outfits, while the protest on August 11 was led by the Association of Health Service Doctors, a Left Front-backed organisation.

Deb did not say if action would be taken against the protestors.

“There are some doctors, nurses and Group D staff members who do not attend to work properly. They frequently remain absent from their departments and yet receive their full salaries…. If any doctor, nurse or Group D staff is found absent from duty, they will be show-caused and necessary action will be taken against them according to service rules,” Deb, who is also the chairman of the patients’ welfare committee at NBMCH, said.

The minister said the salaries of the absentee doctors, nurses and Group D employees would be deducted for the days they were absent.

There have been complaints from several patients that the diagnosis and treatment of the suspected viral outbreak was tardy. Some patients had also complained that the fever clinic in NBMCH did not have enough doctors to treat the long line of patients who waited for hours for treatment.

Deb today said: “If anybody resists, we will take legal action against him.”

Sources said in some departments of NBMCH, even the heads were frequently absent from work.

Deb said a three-member committee had been formed to verify the facts and details provided by the heads of departments.

“If the NBMCH authorities find any discrepancy in facts and details provided by the heads to them, the matter will be referred to the committee for verification. The committee members will inquire into the matter,” Deb said.

Mridula Chatterjee, head of pediatric department, Nirmal Bera, head of psychiatry department and Shekhar Ranjan Basu, head of the anaesthesia department, are the three members of the committee.

Three persons have died in NBMCH in the past 24 hours, succumbing to the suspected viral outbreak.

Sukumar Dhar, 55, of Alipurduar, Pritam Barman, 18, and Dhanmala Sutradhar, 80, both from Raiganj, died in the past 24 hours.

Amulya Roy, 72, the father of CPM councillor Dipayan Roy, died of Japanese Encephalitis in a nursing home. He was a resident of Babupara in Siliguri.