The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Clinics cut hospital lifeline
HEALTH BEAT: A patient arrives at a government hospital. Pictures by Kishor Roy Chowdhury

DR SUBIR GANGULY, president of the Bengal branch of Indian Medical Association, met readers of The Telegraph last week at the IMA Hall, on Biresh Guha Street, near the Park Circus Bridge no. 4, to answer their queries. Participants included Deepak Sarkar, Kajal Bose, Sandipan Biswas, Kalyan Roy, Shyamal De, Amit Sarkar, Biswajit Sarkar, Diptimoy Ghosh and Amitava Bhattacharya

Diptimoy Ghosh: At one time, hospitals would draw people from every section of society. The scenario is no longer the same. Besides, a number of nursing homes have sprung up near the medical colleges. Why'

It is true that nursing homes are sprouting up around government hospitals. For this, the governmentís faulty policy is to blame. At one time, every section of society would queue up at hospitals for treatment. Now, those who matter rarely go.

Moreover, after the introduction of a non-practising allowance, many reputed doctors have left the hospitals and joined nursing homes. Even the government is encouraging the private sector to set up more and more clinics. The people are taken in by the glamour of private treatment and flock to these clinics.

The government did introduce pay clinics in hospitals, but there, the attending doctors have not received a single paisa to date.

Diptimoy Ghosh: On the one hand, doctors are increasing their fees and on the other, they misbehave with their patients. How can this be checked'

In private practice, everyone is free to fix his fees, so why not a doctor' But for your information, in our state, the fees charged by the doctors are very low. Ill-treatment of patients by a doctor cannot be accepted. There are several bodies where complaints can be lodged. We conduct thorough inquiries and, if necessary, take stringent action.

Shyamal De: To the common man, a doctor is God. But some doctors donít play by the rules and earn the profession a bad name. What role can the IMA play to check this'

The IMA has certain guidelines for all doctors to follow.

It is true that some doctors get caught up in corrupt practices by falling prey to various types of inducements. Corruption can also set in for reasons beyond their control. Suppose a doctor wants his child to succeed him in the profession but the child is not gifted enough. The father pays a capitation fee of Rs 20 lakh to turn his offspring into a doctor. That, you will admit, is a lot of money to rustle up. So, unfair measures are adopted.

The government should be put on the mat for this, not the doctor concerned. Of couse, if a doctor is found indulging in corrupt practices, stern action is taken against him. Recently, after proper investigation, one doctor was even put behind bars.

Amit Sarkar: I find it peculiar that non-medical associations and science organisations conduct health campaigns. Why doesnít the IMA hold one'

Some political parties conduct health camps and drives with a particular motive, but cannot sustain them. Moreover, health campaigns by non-medical organisations are quite microscopic.

The IMA cannot be accused of not conducting a health campaign. We do such things all the time.

Amitava Bhattacharya: In the rural areas, quacks play a vital role. How can this menace be checked'

As many doctors do not want to go to the villages, quacks carry on their business without bothering about medical ethics. They prescribe medicines without knowing the proper doses. Of course, to check this, the government should be more alert and active.

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