The probe into one of the biggest health scandals in recent times has finally been concluded and the prime ‘suspects’ who have gone about their healthcare duties without a hitch at another address for so long, have, officially, been nailed.
The team set up by the government to probe the circumstances that led to the string of baby deaths at BC Roy Memorial Hospital for Children in August and September 2002, has finished its assignment. Fifteen months after the first of the deaths occurred, the 10-page report has reached Writers’ Buildings.
But there is nothing in the report, submitted on November 28, that explains why the committee — led by three officials of the rank of joint secretary — took so long to file it. All it does is state that the five found prima facie guilty of the deaths were really responsible for the all-round mismanagement and failure to stem the rot.
With the probe committee taking its own time to establish the guilt of the five found prima facie guilty, they have been leading normal professional lives. Transferred out of the state’s apex referral hospital for children — after the government spent some time, trying (without success) to show that nothing was wrong with the system — they soon found that “punishment” meant nothing more.
The five to have been “found guilty” by the probe are —
*BC Roy superintendent Anup Kumar Mandal
*RMO Samar Kumar Das
*Nurse-in-charge Ekadashi Sarkar
*Store-keeper Asutosh Ray
*Ward-master Swapan Kumar Ray.
Other health department officials, however, were not so sure of the blame game. All five are just “plain unlucky for being at the wrong place at the wrong time”, they said.
Mandal, Das and Sarkar — found guilty of dereliction of duty — just happened to be the superintendent, the RMO and the nurse-in-charge during a period when the number of deaths shot up, they explained.
And the store-keeper (found guilty of not requisitioning enough oxygen cylinders and medicines) could not be blamed as repeated requests — from the hospital to the government — to make these supplies less irregular were ignored before the multiple deaths, officials claimed.
But the most “bizarre” blame — of not being able to handle bereaved families — was pinned on the door of the ward-master, they said. “How can a single person control a grieving and unreasonable mob'” one official asked.
The director of medical education, the senior-most physician in charge of these hospitals, was in no mood to offer explanations.
All that Chittaranjan Maiti would say on Friday was that the report had reached the government. He added that the probe established the guilt of the five ‘suspects’. “The report has been filed by senior officials and I should not comment on their findings,” said Maiti.
Declining comment on what the government would do with the report, Maiti said: “It’s not for me to say.” A decision — involving his superiors in the department — would be taken in due course.
Would that mean 15 months or less'