In the first-ever setback to the new Left’s healthcare reforms, pay-clinics set up in major city hospitals in January are on the verge of a collapse, following the government’s failure to pay doctors, nurses and other staff attached to such clinics since inception.
As part of its move to compete with private poly-clinics, the government had, with much fanfare, opened the clinics at Medical College and Hospital, Nil Ratan Sirkar Hospital, National Medical College and Hospital and Sambhunath Pandit Hospital, where doctors attend to patients after outdoor hours, for a fee of Rs 100 per patient. Those unable to get treated at the outdoor departments, especially due to overcrowding, attend the clinics between 2 to 5 pm .
It was decided that 60 per cent of the amount collected from such pay-clinics will go to the government’s coffers, while the rest will be shared among the doctors, nurses and general duty attendants (GDAs) deployed at the clinics after duty hours. But, in reality, the entire amount is deposited with the treasury, much to disappointment of the staff.
Admitting the lapses, state minister for health and family welfare Surjya Kanta Mishra told Metro on Thursday that the hospital staff on duty at the pay-clinics have been denied payment for nearly 11 months. “We should have released the payment of the hospital staff much earlier, but this could not be done since the amount collected was deposited with the treasury. The finance department has taken up the matter with the accountant-general to expedite the payment,” he maintained.
C.R.Maity, director of medical education, said that denial of payment to the hospital staff since January had already “aggrieved them”. “Though we have been attending patients for nearly 11 months, we have not received payment since January,” said Jyotirmoy Dutta, head of the eye department, National Medical College.
A senior physician from Medical College warned that they would stop attending such pay-clinics if there was further delay in clearing the dues. Hospital superintendent Kusum Adhikari later said that “grievances on the part of the hospital staff were genuine”. Champa Turi, a GDA attached to the pay-clinic in NRS, was vociferous. “We shall stop going to the clinic if we are denied of our dues,” she threatened, adding: “We have already made a representation to superintendent Shyamal Rudra, but nothing has been done so far.”
Nurses are equally aggrieved. “We attend pay-clinics after duty hours and sometimes stay back till 8 pm. How long will we be denied payment'” asked Ila Biswas, staff nurse at National Medical College.