The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vigil team to keep tabs on doctors

Behrampore, June 24: The government’s screening of the work ethics of its health employees in Murshidabad has nailed seven doctors for enjoying holidays in a time of crisis and raised questions on medics indulging in illegal private practise.

The district health system has been reeling under the impact of a spate of child deaths over the past few weeks. Though the official toll was 20, unofficial figures put it at 70 children.

“Two doctors in Jangipur Subdivisional Hospital, three in the district hospital here, the medical officer of Suti-I block and a physician at Krishnapur grameen (rural) hospital — seven doctors have been found to be on leave despite the cancellation of all holidays more than a week ago. I have faxed a detailed report to the health department,” said R.P. Banerjee, the joint commissioner of the department’s vigilance cell.

Before leaving for Calcutta, Banerjee indicated that a “secret” vigilance team was being formed in the district to keep tabs on doctors who were not doing their duty. “This will help us monitor the situation from Calcutta,” Banerjee said.

The Indian Medical Association’s Murshidabad chapter termed the vigilance team’s inquiry a “witch hunt” to cover up the shortcomings of the government’s health infrastructure. The association has also taken exception to the imminent suspension of the assistant chief medical officer of health of Lalbag subdivision and the block medical officer of Lalgola.

Banerjee said details of shortcomings of individual doctors have been sent to the health secretary. “Besides, on the issue of physicians receiving non-practising allowance and yet indulging in private practise, I have been told of several instances and we are looking into them,” he said.

The joint commissioner and the joint secretary of health, Satyabrata Bute, have been here for the past two days, probing the manner in which the health system is being run.

District chief medical officer of health Bijon Mondol said in Jangipur, where 21 children have died, paediatrician Soumen De of the Krishnapur rural hospital went on leave on June 10 and has not returned to work till date. De has applied for medical leave.

“Medical officer of Suti-I Tirthankar Chandra has been absent for some time. We have sent a replacement there. In Jangipur subdivisional hospital, a doctor has not reported for duty in the past two years and a dentist has been on leave for over a month,” Mondol added.

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