The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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HC panel lash on hospitals

Calcutta, July 7: Those at the helm of administration in different hospitals across Bengal have developed vested interests and should be transferred on a regular basis to stem the rot in the healthcare system.

This is the observation of a five-member panel appointed by Calcutta High Court to probe the malaise affecting hospitals, starting from primary and block-level health centres. The committee, headed by Justice Chittotosh Mukherjee, will submit its 76-page report to the government and the court tomorrow.

“We have visited nearly 25 hospitals since we began the work in January. Our endeavour is to improve the state’s healthcare system by providing a number of suggestions on how to revamp it and make it more patient-friendly,” Mukherjee said today.

He said chiefs of hospitals have to be more efficient and even hard task-masters so that patients can get proper treatment. Moreover, those at the helm should be stationed in the hospital quarters to maintain a round-the-clock vigil.

“All is not well in block-level rural hospitals and primary health centres due to the lack of efficient management and proper infrastructure. But there is enough scope for improvement so that people can get quality treatment,” he said.

The high court constituted the panel following a public interest litigation moved by Behrampore Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury, who blamed the health set-up for the death of more than 45 children in villages across Murshidabad last June.

The government believed the deaths were caused by a “mystery fever” but tests revealed that it was nothing but influenza.

The report points at the lack of enough doctors and nursing staff at the emergency wards in most of the state-run hospitals.

“Emergency wards have to be overhauled on a war footing so that patients can have an idea of the quality treatment available in the hospitals as soon as they land there,” said M.M. Chowdhury, panel member and vice-chancellor of the West Bengal University of Health Sciences.

The panel suggests an expert committee comprising doctors from various faculties should be stationed at every emergency ward round-the-clock to attend to patients and refer them to relevant departments.

Chowdhury also said that in many hospitals the number of nurses is not proportionate to that of patients. “We are still following the 1957 model in which one nurse was to look after five patients. With the workload increasing on nurses, it is not possible for a nurse to monitor the condition of more than three patients...,” he said.

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