Bihar: IMA Angry After Tejashwi Suspends a Medical Superintendent for Negligence
Image Courtesy: PTI
Patna: Two days after Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, who is also health minister, suspended the medical superintendent of a government-run medical college and hospital for negligence and complaints of irregularities, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Bihar denounced the action and called an emergency meeting on Saturday evening to discuss it.
Yadav's action was widely seen as a part of his move to improve the health system of the government hospitals, which have been in poor condition for years.
Though the action taken by Yadav got overwhelming support among the public, this development is set to bring Yadav and IMA Bihar, which expressed unhappiness, face to face.
During a surprise visit on Thursday night to Patna-based Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH), Yadav checked the treatment being provided to dengue patients and found utter negligence. A number of patients and their close relatives informed him that they were not getting medicines and were asked to purchase from outside. They were even forced to buy a drinking water bottle, and nurses, during night duty, refused to attend to them.
After the visit, Yadav suspended Dr Vinod Kumar Singh, medical superintendent of NMCH, for negligence and failure to implement the health department's rules.
As per local dailies, Patna has become a hot spot for dengue, with cases rising since early this month. Bihar has sounded a dengue alert following increasing cases in recent days. With official data putting the number of cases at more than 4000, fear of a dengue outbreak is looming large in the state.
But IMA Bihar is not happy over the action against Singh taken by Yadav.
"There is anger among the doctors over the latest government action. Doctors will not tolerate any move to make them scapegoat to hide the government's failures." Dr DS Singh, president of IMA Bihar, told NewsClick. He warned the government to withdraw action against Dr Vinod Kumar Singh or face serious consequences.
According to officials of the health department, government doctors, their organisation and IMA Bihar are not comfortable with Yadav's initiative to improve health facilities in the government-run hospitals.
"The government doctors, who are also members of Bihar Health Services Association (BHSA) and IMA Bihar, have their vested interest as most of them are engaged in private practices. Improvement of medical care in government hospitals is not favourable to them. They have been doing one or other things contrary to Yadav's move."
In early September this year, Yadav's surprise midnight visit to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) found that doctors and medical staff were absent from duty, and there was a lack of sanitation and dirt and filth on the premises. What shocked him was that dogs were inside the wards of the hospital, which is the largest government-run health centre in Bihar. During interaction with patients, they complained of a lack of medicines and other facilities to him.
Taking serious note of it, Yadav called a high-level meeting of all the civil surgeons in the state to ensure proper treatment in the government hospitals.
Last week, Yadav revealed that 705 government doctors were absent from duty or work for more than six months to twelve years to five years and continue to draw their salary in Bihar and made it clear that the government will take action against such doctors.
Yadav admitted that there are several government doctors posted in rural health centres who hardly work there and instead continue to practice in urban areas.
Hundreds of doctors of government-run hospitals and other health facilities in Bihar went on strike on October 6 to protest against the government's move toward mandatory biometric attendance. It is seen as another ploy of these doctors to create hindrances to improving health facilities by Yadav.
The state health department has directed officials of medical colleges and hospitals and concerned district officials to manage the situation amid the strike.
Despite government claims, health infrastructure remains poor in Bihar; thousands of patients, primarily poor and marginalised, visit OPDs at different hospitals and return without treatment due to the unavailability of doctors, defunct ultrasound, x-ray machines, etc. As per local dailies, in the last two months since the new Mahagathbandhan government was formed, hundreds of patients who queued up for hours at Sadar hospitals in different districts had to return without even basic check-ups as doctors were absent. Similarly, several seriously ill patients could not be hospitalised due to either unavailability of medical staff or lack of equipment.
This year's latest report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) revealed the alarming healthcare situation. The report stated that the government-run hospitals, mainly the district hospitals, suffered from a severe lack of resources, workforce and plans for the growing population. It also clarified that the number of doctors, nurses and other paramedic staff was significantly less.
There was a persistent shortage of doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, and technicians in Bihar from 2014 to 2020. Still, the department did not publish the total vacancies to get them filled," the report said.
The report shows a shortfall of beds, ranging from 52% to 92%. Actual bed strength was not raised to the sanctioned level even after a decade passed.
According to the CAG report, the district government-run hospitals could hardly provide patients with basic health facilities. The situation was noticed during the audit of the functioning of hospitals in five districts - Biharsharif, Hajipur, Jehanabad, Madhepura, and Patna - for the period 2014-15 to 2019-20.
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