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'Take legal action against pvt hospitals if necessary'

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday asked senior officials of the state Health department to once again go through the complaints against the four private hospitals including Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata. She also instructed the officials to take legal action against the hospital authorities if the situation demands so.

It was learnt that the Chief Minister expressed her dissatisfaction over the incident in which a 30-year-old man with critical injuries was not allowed to be shifted to a government hospital due to non-payment of money which was demanded by the hospital authorities. It was learnt that the state government had been going through the Clinic Establishment Act to make necessary amendments to fix accountability of these private hospitals. Senior health officials have also submitted a report to the Chief Minister on Saturday in this connection.

On the other hand, senior health officials were not convinced at the explanation given to them by Apollo Gleneagles Hospital authorities in Kolkata on the detention of a patient without the clearance of the bill that had eventually led to his death. Senior officials had summoned their counterparts of the hospital to Swasthya Bhavan in connection with the incident.

Principal Secretary of Health department R S Shukla, after holding a meeting with the senior officials of the hospital on Saturday, categorically mentioned that the hospital authorities could have allowed the transfer of Sanjay Roy, the victim admitted to the hospital following an accident, to a government hospital without waiting for the bill to be cleared.

"We are not satisfied with the explanation of the hospital in this particular incident. The case could have been handled in a better way. It is clear that the hospital authorities did not allow the patient to be shifted without getting the bills cleared," Shukla said.

He also raised questions on why the relatives of the patient were asked to pay money immediately after his admission when there is a Supreme Court guideline stating that the hospitals must treat accident victims without any delay. The victim's family paid the entire amount of around Rs 8 lakh, which is more than what the hospital had demanded from them. The Health Secretary raised questions on the payment pattern and asked for further clarification in this regard.

Director of Health Services Biswaranjan Satpathy said further inquiry would be conducted by the department. After going through the documents, it is assumed that the patient could have been saved adopting simpler procedures at a much lesser cost. Some questions also arose after going through the documents on which clarification has been sought for. Action will be taken against the hospital authorities if any negligence is found in the treatment.

Roy, who was aged around 30, was admitted to the hospital with critical injuries following an accident in Howrah on February 16. The victim received injuries on his chest and belly. His liver was badly affected and led to internal haemorrhage. It was alleged that the hospital authorities had forced the relatives of the patient to deposit a Fixed Deposit (FD) certificate. It was also alleged that the patient's life could have been saved if he was transferred to a government hospital on time. On Thursday, the family members of the victim sought the help of Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee to transfer the patient to the SSKM Hospital. The family members alleged that they requested the private hospital to allow them to shift him but they refused to release him till the bill was settled. Das was taken to SSKM Hospital where his condition had deteriorated. He died on Friday morning. SSKM doctors later said the patient could have been saved if he was shifted there without so much delay.

It may be mentioned that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee last Wednesday had asked all the private hospitals not to charge patients arbitrarily. She also mentioned during a meeting with the senior officials of all the important private hospitals that a patient could not be held for non-payment of dues. She also proposed to set up the West Bengal Health Regulatory Commission after passing a Bill in the forthcoming Assembly session to monitor the functioning of the private hospitals.
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