The city police have started a drive against touts and middlemen at government hospitals who take money from patients and their relatives after promising them admission, quick access to tests and early dates for surgeries.
A team of the anti-rowdy squad of the detective department of Calcutta police on Monday arrested three men who were allegedly engaged in illegal activities at SSKM Hospital, including promising patients and relatives beds and tests against payment, the police said on Monday.
The police identified the accused as Avishek Mallick, 23, Abhay Balmiki, 20, and Deb Mallick, all residents of Calcutta.
The three have been charged under IPC sections on cheating, criminal conspiracy and criminal intimidation.
A case has been started against them at Bhowanipore police station.
The arrest of the three came within 48 hours of officers rounding up two persons from the NRS Medical College and Hospital on Saturday evening on similar charges.
Bilas Singh, from Narkeldanga, and Gautam Sarkar, from Ranaghat in Nadia, were allegedly collecting money from unsuspecting and needy patients by promising them beds and medicines at the government hospital in Sealdah.
“These men would hang around the Emergency wards of hospitals looking for patients and their family members who seemed lost and keen to get a bed in the hospital,” said a senior police officer.
“After following them for some time, a tout would walk up to a family member and offer to arrange for the immediate admission of the patient against payment. Since the targeted parties were mostly from districts, many would fall in the trap,” the officer said.
Officers said the touts had links with Group D and contractual employees of the hospital, who knew about the bed strength in various wards and the number of beds vacant.
“The touts would target patients and their families after observing the name of the place written on ambulances carrying them to the hospital. It may be Nadia, Birbhum or South 24-Parganas,” the officer said.
On Saturday, Madan Mitra, Trinamul MLA from Kamarhati, had voiced concerns about touts calling shots in government hospitals.
These men, Mitra said, earned money by promising beds to ailing patients against payment.
Before Mitra’s outburst, the son of Ramesh Halder, a Kamarhati resident,
complained to the MLA that his father died at the College of Medicine and Sagore Dutta Hospital, in Kamarhati, early on Saturday after falling prey to a tout who assured admission in ICU, as advised by doctors.
Mitra had said he would raise the issue with chief minister Mamata Banerjee and alleged that Javed Ali, a resident of Kamar-hati, was the kingpin of the touts at Sagore Dutta Hospital.