The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BC Roy baby death replay in Burdwan

Burdwan, Oct. 21: The government, still grappling with the fallouts of the 14 baby deaths in two days at the B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital last month, faced another question-hour as 10 children died over the weekend at Burdwan Medical College and Hospital.

Officials said three children died on Saturday and seven more the next day.

An alarmed health department has already ordered a probe into the incidents. “The death of so many children in two consecutive days is sad. I have asked the principal of the college to probe the matter and submit a report at the earliest,” said Prabhakar Chatterjee, director of health services.

Chatterjee said in Calcutta that he has received a preliminary report from the hospital superintendent. “Though the deaths are mostly due to septicaemia, we won’t take chances in the wake of the B.C. Roy incident,” he added.

However, the hospital authorities reacted with the same indifference as during the B.C. Roy incident. Principal Bijoy Mukherjee said: “This is not an abnormal incident. I’ve sent for a detailed report from the hospital superintendent. I’ve also ordered a comprehensive investigation into the matter,” he said.

Mukherjee admitted that there was shortage of doctors and the medical infrastructure at the hospital was insufficient.

But what was “normal” to Mukherjee spelt a calamity in several families and triggered panic in many more. The tension written on scores of anxious parents at the paediatric department of the medical college hospital was all too apparent. Several of them are already contemplating shifting their wards to private nursing homes.

Most guardians alleged this afternoon that the department was being manned by house-staff or inexperienced “junior doctors” during the weekend.

Mohammad Kajer from Galsi and Debasis Biswas from Panagarh shared the apprehensions about the treatment of their children. “We are left with no option but to shift our ailing children from this hospital,” said Biswas.

Hospital authorities, however, denied charges of any negligence. According to Mukherjee, the average daily toll in the paediatric department is three but the weekend death count of 10 is not unnatural as a majority of the dead children were admitted in “critical conditions”.

“The children were suffering from meningitis, low weight and breathing trouble. There is no need to raise a hue and cry over the matter,” said Mukherjee.

Quick to cash in, the district Congress Sevadal demonstrated in the hospital this morning. “We have a feeling that the children died due to sheer negligence of the doctors on duty,” said Sevadal leader Champak Garai.

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