The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Counsel team to resolve hospital disputes

Alarmed at the deteriorating relationship between doctors and patients in government hospitals, the state government has decided to form a team of counsellors to clear the air.

With complaints of negligence in treatment pouring in at Writers’ Buildings from different corners, health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra has suggested a “permanent team” to resolve disputes on the spot, after holding several rounds of meetings with his departmental officers.

“It is not possible for doctors to hear all the cases and provide quick solutions. The hitches occur only because of a communication gap or misunderstanding. Our move is aimed at bridging this gap,’’ said director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee.

According to health officials, the social welfare officers posted in each medical college — whose duty is to assist patients and their kin in case of any problems — is not equipped to tackle the hundreds of disputes that arise every day.

The new scheme will have a team of 25 to 30 counsellors to hear out the grievances of patients and their relatives and take steps accordingly. Comprising members from reputed NGOs, hospitals and the health department, the team will be spread over different departments and also counsel the patient’s kin as and when required.

“Be it an emergency, procurement of vital medicines or providing suitable conditions to indoor patients — the counsellor will be responsible for all these. In case of any major trouble, he will bring the matter to the notice of his higher authorities,’’ said a senior officer in the health department.

The team will initially look after four city medical colleges. Later, the services will be extended to other government hospitals as well.

“Disputes in hospitals over medical attention have become a regular feature, which often turn violent. The purpose of forming a team of counsellors is to keep middlemen at bay and help patients get proper medical attention without any hitch,’’ said Shyamal Basu, special secretary in the health department.

He said several NGOs work in the field of healthcare in the city and elsewhere. “But they are scattered and work haphazardly. We want to tap their resources by integrating them under a common umbrella,’’ Basu added. The health department has shortlisted some NGOs and started holding talks with them.

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