The Telegraph
Tuesday , December 6 , 2011
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CIMA Gallary

Mamata’s prescriptions plus bitter pills

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee prescribed a series of remedies for the ailing state health care at a meeting on the 200th day of her government on Monday. Health secretary Sanjoy Mitra, medical education director Susanta Banerjee and other senior health department officials, as well as the principals of the state-run medical colleges attended the meeting. Metro scans the action plan

Fair price medicine and medical equipment shops

Fair price shops for medicines and medical equipment will be set up at all medical colleges to tackle the tout menace. All drugs and life-saving equipment like stents and pacemakers will be available from the shops at a price lower than the market rate as the government will buy them in bulk. Such shops are now run at NRS, MR Bangur and a few other hospitals. The first fair price equipment shop is set to be opened at RG Kar hospital.

Reality check

The fair price medicine shops often run out of stock. “At times quality drugs cannot be purchased because of the price constraint,” said a health department official.

Recruiting specialist doctors from other states for rural hospitals

The health department had started a drive, to continue till mid-December, to hire specialist doctors for district and rural hospitals. A week before the deadline lapses, there is still a shortage of around 450 such doctors. “Many specialist doctors are unwilling to go to rural areas. We will now launch a drive to recruit doctors from other states,” the official said.

Reality check

Sources in the department fear the second drive, too, would fail. “Specialist doctors are in demand across the country. It’s unlikely they will come here,” said a source. Experts suggest the government announce incentives for rural postings.

Service with a smile

Doctors and other hospital staff must behave well with patients and their relatives. Doctors should make rounds of the wards more frequently and meet patients’ relatives twice a day. The health department to continue monitoring the functioning of the OPDs.

Reality check

“The scowls cannot turn into smiles overnight. And since private practice by government doctors is legalised, it’s impossible for them to meet patients’ relatives even once daily. It’s also difficult for the government to enforce the rule across the state,” said a health department veteran.

Implementation of satellite units

Medical colleges should immediately set up satellite units. RG Kar Medical College will have its satellite unit at Abinash Dutta Maternity Home, Calcutta Medical College at Lady Dufferin Hospital, Calcutta National Medical College at Bagha Jatin State General Hospital, and NRS Medical College at Bidhannagar Sub-divisional Hospital.

Reality check

How will overburdened doctors of the medical colleges be able to treat critical patients at the satellite units?

Increasing beds and upgrading infrastructure

The number of beds in the medical colleges are to be increased to ensure patients are not turned away. Life-saving equipment will have to be installed and patient waiting sheds renovated.

Reality check

Increasing the number of beds at medical colleges will not end overcrowding. Infrastructure at rural hospitals must be improved to stem the tide of patients to referral hospitals in the city.

How can Mamata Banerjee resuscitate health care in Bengal? Tell