The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Swoop on touts to clean up hospitals

First the media, then the middlemen. Carrying forward its so-called crusade to clean up the healthcare system, the government has directed its police force to slam the hospital doors on touts.

Detective department chief Soumen Mitra confirmed that the police have been asked to bust the organised racket run by touts in state-run hospitals. A case in point — the arrest of two suspected touts on Thursday from Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.

“We will conduct similar raids at all state-run hospitals to stop this practice. Last week, we arrested one person from RG Kar Medical College and Hospital. During a surprise raid on Thursday, we netted Sunil Dhara and Dilip Bose,” Mitra added.

Sleuths of the anti-rowdy section laid a trap at Medical College, posing as relatives of a patient seeking admission. Bose and Dhara approached them and assured them a bed, for a fee of Rs 500. The cops immediately identified themselves and arrested the duo on the spot.

“We are investigating the case and will be sending a detailed report to the health department. The touts are usually from the neighbourhood but some come all the way from Burdwan, Barasat and other far-off places. We are also looking into the possibility of some hospital staff being involved in the racket,” said Mitra.

Calcutta Medical College and Hospital deputy superintendent A. Biswas, meanwhile, said he had demanded an inquiry into the death of Sarwan Jaiswal, a tuberculosis patient, who tried to commit suicide on Tuesday by jumping out of the first-floor window of the hospital. Jaiswal died the following day of internal haemorrhage.

Amidst all this, state health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra said at Writers’ Buildings on Thursday that the government would make an effort to highlight its achievements.

“There is no alternative to the health service that the government provides, though the private sector has an important contribution,” said Mishra, adding that all complaints would be addressed.

“I never tried to suggest that there are no flaws in the healthcare system. Both the private sector and government healthcare units should maintain transparency,” said the minister.

He refused to be drawn into the controversy of whether he was feeling the pressure of two portfolios, health and panchayats. “I intend doing my work sincerely,” stressed Mishra.

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