KOLKATA: Upset over frequent referrals of patients, particularly pregnant women, from districts to city hospitals, CM Mamata Banerjee warned on Monday that "if there is death of a pregnant woman, the doctor referring the patient should be held liable".
The CM asked health secretary Narayan Swaroop Nigam to deal sternly with such cases of referrals even as she sought 100% hospitalised delivery in the state against the current figure of 99%.
At the meeting in Nabanna, the CM also came down heavily on some private hospitals and nursing homes for refusing Swasthya Sathi beneficiaries and asked health officials to go ahead and cancel their licences.
'Onus of pregnant women's death to be on referral doctors'
Annoyed with complaints of district healthcare facilities regularly referring patients to city hospitals, chief minister Mamata Banerjee demanded a proper policy to plug the gap. She was especially upset that pregnant women were often forced to travel five to six hours, which deteriorated their condition, and in some cases, led to their deaths. "If there is a death of a pregnant mother, the doctor referring the patient should be held liable for it," the CM said.
During an interaction with health officials at Nabanna, Banerjee demanded to know whether doctors from the periphery would ever stop this practice of referring patients, even pregnant women, to city hospitals. She pointed out that earlier, when there would be no doctor, children would have been delivered at home. Questioning the doctors' competence, she demanded to know why were trained doctors still not willing to deliver children at hospitals or BPHCs.
Banerjee asked health secretary Narayan Swaroop Nigam to be tactful and deal cases of referrals, even of pregnant mothers, sternly. She even asked Nigam to go on surprise checks and wait in queues in disguise to see how patients were being treated. "You can put on a pair of goggles or as it is winter now, wrap a shawl around to hide your identity," Banerjee said.
The CM pointed out she wanted 100% hospitalized delivery. Right now, 99% children in Bengal are born in healthcare facilities, up from 68% in 2011. "Will you reduce referring patients?" she asked, narrating a case, when a mother died on her five-hour journey from one hospital to another. The health secretary said they have started probing all cases of pregnant women's deaths.
The chief minister suggested that if doctors at a PHC or BPHC could not handle a critical case, they should immediately contact the consultants at district hospitals and if need be, could also have a discussion with seniors over video calls. Thus the infant mortality rate could be reduced, she said, pointing out infant mortality rate had been reduced to 14 from 22 per 1,000 live births. .
Banerjee said, "By 2023, there will be 7,800 Sushasthya Kendras, up from the current 6,000. The number of MBBS seats has increased from1,355 in 2011 to 4,850, as 600 seats were added this year at the six new medical colleges, which started this year. More seats will be added so that the state can have more doctors and our children can be doctors."
The chief minister also said there were enough doctors, the number having increased from 4,800 to 15,267. State health recruitment board (SHRB) had recently appointed 1,102 doctors. Banerjee asked SHRB chief Sudipto Roy to complete the recruitment process for the vacant posts to mitigate any shortage.