The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Notice to missing medics
- Officer sees queue at hospital & doctors busy at home

Nov. 4: The chief medical officer of Birbhum, who went to probe charges that doctors were never there at a rural hospital, found six doctors absent from work.

All the doctors, including Muraroi block medical officer Kuntal Mukherjee, the superviser of the hospital, were showcaused today.

Villagers had sent a petition to district magistrate Barun Roy a week ago, complaining about the doctors at the Muraroi Rural Hospital. Chief medical officer Shyamapada Basak made a “surprise visit” to the village, about 260 km from Calcutta, yesterday.

The villagers had alleged that most of the doctors were busy at private clinics during duty hours. Basak found three doctors treating patients at their hospital quarters. “I was greeted by angry patients and their relatives when I reached the hospital around 10 yesterday morning. Not a single doctor was available at the hospital and some of the patients were waiting for hours.

“Three doctors had skipped duty without prior information, the other three were caught indulging in private practise. I was so upset at the state of affairs that I served showcause notices to all six of them,” said Basak.

Mukherjee left the village on Saturday, Sandip Chanda and Dipendu Chowdhury left on Sunday. A. Agarwala, Tathagata Ghosh and Sabina Khatoon were busy seeing patients for a fee at their homes, which the government provides, when more than a hundred others had queued up at the out-patient department.

“When I wanted to know why they were practising in private, skipping duty, they had no explanation. The doctors will be punished. The action will follow their reply to the showcause notices,” Basak said.

Patients alleged that the doctors’ absence was a routine affair. “Every morning, we come all the way from remote villages to the out-patient department,” said Kaushik Dutta, who has been suffering from a severe throat ache for the past three days and is barely able to speak. No doctor has attended to him yet.

Mukherjee, who returned on Monday night, was caught unawares by the showcause. He said he had been to Calcutta to see his ailing son. “As hospital chief, I handed over charge to second medical officer Sandip Chanda when I left on Saturday morning. But he left the hospital the same day after coming to know that his father had expired. I don’t know why the third medical officer left the hospital,” Mukherjee said over phone tonight.

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