The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shah in health slap

Calcutta, Oct. 30: For the first time since the spate of negligence cases rocked government hospitals across the state, governor Viren Shah today spoke his mind at Raj Bhavan, expressing his displeasure about the healthcare system.

“Stop treating patients like wild animals, they are human beings and need care and attention,” Shah said, referring to reports on negligence deaths in state-run hospitals. “Some people are saying that newspapers are blowing things out of proportion, but I think they are creating awareness among people.”

Pointing out that more “prem” and humanity was needed in the handling of patients, Shah said that “even animals” should not receive the kind of treatment that some patients do. Recounting an incident, Shah said: “My daughter who was in Pune found a donkey outside her house who was not well; she treated it and saw to it that it was kept in a safe place where it would be taken care of.”

He did not elaborate on the implications of this comment on how people who go to state-run hospitals in Bengal are treated, but it was clear to the gathering what Shah was trying to say.

Even as Shah spoke out, demonstrators ransacked at least two sub-divisional hospitals, protesting against alleged negligence deaths there. At the Bongaon sub-divisional hospital in North 24-Parganas, where only a couple of days ago a cat tried to snatch a baby from the crib, people went on the rampage alleging that a woman had died due to negligence while delivering a child.

In a similar incident at the Arambagh sub-divisional hospital in Hooghly, angry relatives of a patient, who had died last night after chest pains, ransacked the hospital alleging negligence.

This is, perhaps, the kind of scenario Shah was referring to when he said this morning: “Serious patients are left unattended for hours in our hospitals, but this should not be done. Not only doctors, but nurses, ayahs and ward boys should be trained to be compassionate. For these are the people who attend to the patients throughout the day. Doctors just visit patients for a brief while.”

But he did not spare doctors either, who, he said, often left the hospital for personal work without caring to find out whether a patient admitted to the hospital needed immediate medical attention. “We should see to it that doctors are available in hospitals throughout the day,” Shah said.

He said that along with hospitals, primary healthcare centres should be improved and medicines made available there.

Left Front chairman Biman Bose, however, insisted that the healthcare system was “not as bad as it is being projected”.

“This is just a conspiracy between a section of the media and the Opposition to tarnish the image of the government,” he said.

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