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Touts, lack of awareness denying people off free services in state-run hospitals

 Pradip Chatterjee |  2016-09-16 00:31:53.0  |  Kolkata

Lack of awareness among a section of people has become the biggest challenge for authorities of the SSKM Hospital in providing better health care services, as many patients from distant places often visit the hospital with ailments that can be easily cured at district level or sub-divisional hospitals.

A Group D employee of the hospital, Rajan Mullick, was arrested on Thursday for alleged involvement with touts. Following the arrest, some Group D staff staged a demonstration, demanding Mullick’s release. Earlier, two touts had been arrested from the same hospital, following instructions of the hospital authorities

Many naive patients are often cheated by touts, who demand money from them with an assurance of early and quick treatment at the hospital.

Instead of availing the health services at the district level, they prefer to come to SSKM – the only state-run super-specialty hospital in the state – creating heavy pressure on its workforce.

These patients are often swindled by touts, who bring them from districts with false assurances of better treatment and demand money for treatments which are provided free of any costs in all the state-run hospitals.

Unnecessary dependency on the SSKM Hospital affects delivery of health services in many ways. It extends long queues of patients, resulting in delay to serve patients. If people are more conscious about these issues, hospital authorities will be able to handle the situation more effectively.

It often becomes difficult for the hospital to ensure time-bound health care service delivery due to enormous burden on the hospital. The picture is common at all the state-run medical colleges and hosptals, which are overburdened and understaffed.

SSKM Hospital authorities have given a strong instruction to the police to book such touts operating within the hospital. Two touts were even arrested by the police two days ago. But corrupt practices cannot go away until patients become conscious about their own rights.

A senior official at SSKM Hospital said that they have a plan to spread awareness among the people about their rights and will also urge them not to become tools at the hands of touts, who take money from patients for medicines and other health care facilities which are in fact free.

Many unaware parents in small districts bring their newborns to SSKM Hospital for vaccination instead of going to district hospitals.

The Mamata Banerjee government, after coming to power, laid great stress on the building of health infrastructure in all district hospitals, sub-divisional hospitals and primary health centres, so that people in the villages get better health services. Many of the hospitals have been a given major facelift and infrastructural revamp.

Following Banerjee’s instruction, around 59 sick newborn care units have already come up at various hospitals, while over 300 sick newborn stabilisation units (SNSU) were made operational in a short span of time. All the 561 functional health units now have newborn care corners (NBCC) and 100 more NBCCs will be constructed in various phases. More than 25 neonatal Units have been set up. Neonatal intensive care units (NICU) and paediatric intensive care ynits (PICU) are functional in nine and ten medical colleges, respectively.

Paediatric nephrology units are being set up in various medical college hospitals, while paediatric cardiology units are being set up in four medical colleges. Around 12 mother and child hubs are coming up in the state. Around 41 super-specialty hospitals are coming up across the state, most of which have already become operational. Nearly 41 critical care units (CCU) and five trauma care units (TCU) have come up in the state, while many more are underway.

Most importantly, the state government has announced all health care facilities will be available free of costs at the state-run hospitals.

It has been learnt that touts from districts – who are well acquainted with some of the staff members at the hospital – bring patients from the villages and charge them Rs 200 each, with an assurance that they will get early treatment.”It is never easy for the government or for the hospital authorities to check the incidents till the patients are aware about what they are entitled to get from the hospitals at free of costs. Patients are requested to report the matter to the hospital authorities if anyone demands money from them for any treatment,” a senior official in the hospital said.

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