The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Clinics cash in on govt gaps

MALAY PATRA, state secretary, Indian Medical Association, Bengal state branch, met readers of The Telegraph at Behala Vidyasagar Hospital to answer their queries. Participants included Seema Bakshi, Arpan Chatterjee, Kamal Kanti Mondal, Surajit Guha, Gopal Chandra Dutta, Tushar Kanti Patra, Swapan Nag, Diptendu Bikash Sengupta, N.K. Haldar, Arun Nandi and Rabin Sen

Arpan Chatterjee: Why will a patient approach a nursing home if the infrastructure in a government hospital is good'

Over the past three years, the number of patients in government hospitals has increased. Some patients leave government hospitals in the middle of treatment because they are not satisfied. If the quality of supervision in state-run hospitals is improved, very few patients will visit nursing homes. However, more needs to be done to attract people from all strata of the society.

Arpan Chatterjee: In some government hospitals, MRI and CT Scan machines are installed under joint ventures. Is it the first step towards privatisation'

You are right. Equipment in some government hospitals have been set up under joint ventures. On the part of the government, it is not only immoral but also unnecessary.

Arpan Chatterjee: Duty hours are fixed in every profession. But doctors are an exception. They have to attend duty almost round-the-clock. The situation becomes grim if he is associated with a nursing home. How can this problem be tackled'

No doctor can be forced to work for more than 40 hours a week, except in case of an emergency. A doctor is certainly exploited, irrespective of where he is employed. However, whenever we receive any complaint, we try to get him justice.

Kamal Kanti Mondal: Hospital authorities should guide patients and their relatives when they come for treatment. The staff must also behave decently. But in some cases, they lack in both. What role can the IMA play to meet these shortcomings'

Every hospital tries to provide the services as best as it can. One should not compare a government hospital with a private-run centre. It is very difficult to provide improved services without a sound financial framework. About the behaviour of a health worker, it varies from person to person.

Seema Bakshi: Several diseases are caused from drinking water. How can this be checked'

To check water-borne diseases, everyone should ensure that the water they drink is safe and pure. Both the state government and the local authorities need to pay attention in this regard. In rural areas, people should ensure that no one bathes or washes clothes and utensils in ponds, from where water is drawn for drinking.

Seema Bakshi: Some departments of a hospital have inadequate number of doctors. And sometimes, doctors refer cases to other places. What can one do about this'

If a doctor goes on leave, efforts are taken to arrange for a replacement. But this is not possible in case of a specialist. In such a circumstance, there is no other option but to refer patients to a better place.

Gopal Chandra Dutta: Several people allege that doctors in hospitals randomly prescribe expensive tests, like various types of scans and MRI, to patients. In most cases, doctors reportedly receive a hefty commission from such tests. Are the allegations true' If so, how can these be checked'

A doctor does not prescribe tests for money. The examinations are advised to determine the condition of a patient. If any doctor fails to live up to the expectations of a patient, the latter can approach the consumer forum. All doctors are not in the habit of earning commissions. We will take steps if such complaints come to our notice. We advise our patients not to go to nursing homes which do not have equipment.

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