The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bitter pill shoved down AMCH gullet

Dibrugarh, June 6: Two external inquiries to diagnose the ills plaguing Assam Medical College and Hospital have identified 11 faculty members as destabilising influences on what used to be the premier healthcare institution of the Northeast.

Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma made a surprise visit to the AMCH this morning and announced disciplinary action against the doctors, four of them senior teachers, on the basis of reports compiled by Upper Assam commissioner Hemanta Narzary and Dibrugarh deputy commissioner Ashutosh Agnihotri.

“Both inquiry reports highlight the anti-government activities of these doctors, who seem to be working at the behest of a section of private nursing homes. The reports say nursing home owners have always been trying to sabotage development activity in the medical college,” Sarma said.

Exactly a year ago, a mob ransacked a nursing home owned by an AMCH doctor for allegedly duping patients. The incident triggered a chain of events that brought the state of affairs at the medical college, the first to be set up in the region, out into the open.

The health minister said not much had changed despite the government turning the spotlight on doctors. Sarma was aghast to find doctors on morning duty missing from the gynaecology and medicine departments.

“We do not want unscrupulous doctors who have committed their lives to the well-being of nursing homes to continue in government jobs. They should resign. We will even kick them out, should it come to that,” he told the media.

The minister revealed that the transfer of three senior professors to Silchar Medical College and Hospital was a disciplinary step. The doctors are Santanu Lahkar, head of the department of orthopaedics, Girin Gogoi, head of the department of medicine, and Rajib Bhattacharjee, associate professor in the department of anaesthesiology.

Apart from medical malpractice, the 108-year-old AMCH has been in the news for its contingent of junior doctors behaving like “the mafia”.

The allegation was heaped on the college after some junior doctors assaulted the father of a child who needed treatment and his friend last month.

Sarma said the government was working on a different strategy to discipline junior doctors and students. “They are least perturbed if we suspend them because they know it is a temporary measure. We will henceforth issue negative character certificates, mentioning that so and so is prone to breaching rules or does not attend classes regularly, so that their careers are affected.”

The minister promised a police outpost on the college campus.

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