The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Party bid to ease Mishra’s burden

Calcutta, Oct. 22: Concerned over the workload on health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, who also holds the important portfolios of panchayats and rural development, the CPM top brass are considering a proposal to lessen the “extra burden” on him.

The CPM is sitting up in the wake of a number of deaths in government hospitals in the absence of adequate care and, particularly, the failure of Mishra’s department to improve the healthcare system across Bengal.

A section of senior leaders, including former chief minister Jyoti Basu and former health minister Prasanta Sur, are learnt to have advised the leadership that Mishra be allowed to shed a portion of the workload on him.

With nearly 2,000 government hospitals in different categories spread across the state and various problems cropping up in them regularly, the leaders feel Mishra’s efforts to improve the state’s healthcare system have so far been half-hearted.

According to CPM sources, Sur, who was health minister for two consecutive terms in the Basu cabinet for nearly 10 years between 1987 and 1996, recently called on Basu and requested him to step in so that Mishra only oversees the health department.

Basu told The Telegraph Sur had met him with a request to ensure “better healthcare management” in the state hospitals. “I am really upset at the way things are happening in state government hospitals these days. How are patients dying in hospitals without medical attention when we have undertaken a lot of schemes to improve the healthcare system'” he asked, demanding that those responsible for the mess “have to be firmly dealt with”.

He, too, felt Mishra is “overworked”. “Surjya (Mishra) is coming back tonight from Dhaka. I and Buddha (Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the chief minister) will discuss with him measures on how to set things in the right perspective,” he said.

Sur, who now heads a 10-member health sub-committee on behalf of the CPM state committee, is learnt to have lined up a sub-committee meeting next week to seek an explanation from Mishra about the “abysmal condition” of the health sector.

He confirmed tonight that he has convened a meeting of the health sub-committee to discuss the situation arising out of the recent hospital deaths due to medical negligence. “We must know what is happening in the state’s health sector as reports are appearing about medical negligence leading to deaths of patients,” he said.

Left Front constituents, also unhappy with the prevailing mess in government hospitals, have demanded a Front committee meeting where the health minister should explain the cause for such a “state of affairs in hospitals”.

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