More than four months have elapsed since the government decided to replace the superintendents of teaching hospitals with vice-principal-cum-medical superintendents, in the wake of serial deaths at the B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children, but there are few takers for the posts.
The health department has been able to make only two appointments — Sunil Pal at the B.C. Roy Memorial and Sarit Chowdhury at the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital.
Health department sources said a number of professors offered posts of medical superintendents at various medical colleges and teaching hospitals in the city and elsewhere in Bengal were reluctant to take up the jobs. “The professors prefer teaching and research and are not willing to take an additional administrative burden. Once one takes charge of a big hospital that is part of a medical college, one will face gheraos and demonstrations. So, they are a little apprehensive. Also, the government has not spelt out any financial incentive for the applicants for the additional burden,” said a health official.
This inordinate delay has angered the CPM’s policy-planners overseeing the health sector in Bengal. “Four months after so many children died at the B.C. Roy Memorial, none of the four major city medical colleges has a medical superintendent,” a said a senior party official.
Health secretary Asim Barman admitted that professors were, in general, apprehensive of the post. “But, we will complete appointing the medical superintendents at the teaching hospitals by the end of the current financial year,” he added.
Director of medical education, C.R. Maity said the government may have to consider some “additional benefits” to woo professors to the post.
“We admit that the procedure is taking time. We are going ahead with our plan and gradually, the posts will be filled. We have already decided the name of a professor for the post at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital,” he added.
Health officers stressed that that apart from the professors being at the receiving end of agitations by employees and aggrieved families of patients, the hospital administrator’s post demanded presence at odd hours and surprise checks and visits to wards which a professor of medicine or surgery might find taxing.
The Bengal branch of the Indian Medical Association said the government was sitting on their long-standing demand for creating a separate public health administrative cadre to take care of the administrative side of the state-run healthcare system.