The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fear and force shut down state
Doctors stay away, hospitals paralysed

Calcutta, Dec. 14: Deserted out-patient departments (OPD), few doctors and medical staff and a handful of surgeries — hospitals, which were officially exempt from the bandh, were hard hit by it.

“The emergency services were not affected and surgeries did take place. Those doctors who were scheduled for the surgeries were brought to the hospital even in ambulances,” claimed Jayasree Mitra Ghosh, director of medical education. “OPD services were affected as the patients could not come.”

But health department sources said the number of planned surgeries was cut down by 50 per cent. “It was true for private hospitals too,” an official said.

One-and-a-half-year-old Amit Mukherjee had a long wait at SSKM Hospital. Suffering from hernia and in need of surgery, the boy from Naihati was referred to SSKM from Chittaranjan Seva Sadan.

“We were asked to come to the hospital today. We are concerned and so, in spite of the bandh, managed to come. But there was no doctor at the paediatrics OPD,” said mother Shanta Mukherjee.

Later, after examining him, the only doctor present refused to admit him, she said. The hospital superintendent had to intervene.

“The boy’s relatives thought it was an emergency but it was not. The doctor and other staff thought he could have been admitted on a normal day. But on humanitarian grounds, we finally allowed admission,” said Ashok Ghosh, the superintendent.

Sources said the Central Pathology Laboratory at Medical College and Hospital was closed because no staff turned up. Patients at NRS and R.G. Kar hospitals said there was no one to make OPD cards.

“No patient and most doctors did not come, so the OPD did not function,” said an official of Calcutta Medical Research Institute and B.M. Birla Heart Research Institute.

“Usually more than 20 surgeries take place at our hospital. But today there were hardly 10,” said an official of Apollo Gleneagles Hospital.

Doctors said they did not want to take a risk. “The driver did not come and since there was no emergency surgery, I chose not to venture out,” said a doctor with AMRI Hospitals.

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