By Sunil Garodia
The NRS Hospital incident, where junior doctors on duty were brutally assaulted by relatives of a person who died in the hospital, has snowballed into a major crisis that seems to be engulfing the entire health system in the state. It is also leading to other smaller incident across the state which if not controlled fast might paralyze healthcare in the state, causing inconvenience to the public.
The Out Patient Departments (OPD) are shut at most government hospitals. Emergency services are also not functioning, except in a couple of hospitals and that too only for a limited period. Private hospitals have also joined the strike, with most doctors staying away. Only skeletal services are functioning and doctors are attending cases of extreme emergency only. Diagnostic clinics have remained shut and most doctors are not attending their private chambers except in an emergency.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, otherwise so voluble and given to direct intervention in even the smallest of cases, has remained inexplicably silent on the issue. While her nephew Abhishek Banerjee condemned the assault and called it âpainfulâ and the state health secretary Rajiva Sinha appealed to the doctors to withdraw their agitation saying that administrative action was being taken and the CM was personally monitoring the situation and issuing instructions, it has failed to pacify the agitating medical community.
This was something that was waiting to happen. There have been many such incidents in the last couple of years, in Kolkata and in the districts. Doctors and other medical staff are left at the mercy of rampaging mobs in the absence of proper security measures in state hospitals. If the culprits in the instant case are not apprehended fast and punished as per law, the message will not go out that such things will not be tolerated. It is the administrationâs laxity in earlier cases which emboldened the mob to do something like this. They knew that nothing will happen to them.
But now that the doctors have escalated the issue, the administration will have to act. The doctors are demanding direct intervention by the CM, exemplary punishment for the assaulters and revamping of security at hospitals so that such incidents are prevented in the future. These are not tough demands. The state must act fast to defuse the situation otherwise it will go out of hand and the common people will continue to suffer.