Mamata Banerjee’s efforts to generate employment in West Bengal through big ticket investment have fallen through. Her government won’t act as a facilitator for ensuring land to industrialists as it runs counter to her policy of letting farmers decide whether they would part with their land or not. This hands-off policy has made prospective investors stay away from investing to set up industries in Bengal. Acquiring land has proved to be the major bottleneck for growth of infrastructure and industry in the state.
On February 24, the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata was accused of serious negligence, causing the death of a patient. It allegedly refused to allow the patient’s transfer to a government hospital for treatment unless all dues were settled.
Sanjoy Roy, 30, was admitted to the hospital after suffering critical injuries in an accident. With treatment costs reaching up to Rs 8 lakh, the patient’s family decided to shift him to the government-run SSKM Hospital.
Roy died after the Apollo ‘refused’ to move him till the bill was cleared. Roy’s death once again brought into sharp focus the medical negligence and the hospital’s mindless overbilling. This triggered a huge uproar in Kolkata.
Mamata with her trademark determination swung into action. She knows this’s the right time to take up the cudgels against the medical negligence issue and capitalise on people’s pent-up anger against private hospitals.
It’s better late than never, she knows.
Mamata said the private hospitals couldn’t ‘blackmail’ her by threatening to leave Bengal. “If some say (they’ll) leave business to blackmail me, do we have to allow them (to do unfair things),” she said.
“…I’ve to sell house, land, valuables, everything (for hospital treatment)? Give my land deeds and fixed deposits? Finish my life? It has to be kept in mind that there is a social responsibility…” Mamata thundered. “Health care and promoting business are not the same.”
At a meeting in Town Hall, Mamata had hauled up several private hospitals based on allegations of medical negligence and overbilling against them.
By passing the ‘historic’ the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017, on March 3, Mamata Banerjee made it clear she knows how to feel the pulse of the people. The Bill contains stringent norms for penalties for possible lapses.
Critics have raised questions over the Bill’s efficacies, though. Of the 13 members that formed the regulatory commission, the inclusion of two members have raised eyebrows. One wonders why Dr Sukumar Mukherjee, who had to pay Rs 10 lakh for his medical negligence in Anuradha Saha’s death, has been named one of the members.
Ohio-based Dr Kunal Saha in a post said: “In the name of improving crumbling medical system in West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee selected Dr Sukumar Mukherjee in a health commission that will judge complaints of medical negligence and ethical violations against doctors. Dr Mukherjee was found guilty of gross negligence causing death of Anuradha Saha by the Supreme Court of India that also imposed highest ever compensation in Indian medical history. The apex court also made scathing criticism for his unethical behavior and dubbed his conduct as ‘unbecoming of a doctor’. MCI also cancelled his medical licence for ‘professional misconduct’. Now the most negligent and unethical doctor in Indian medical history will decide allegations of negligence by other doctors. What a cruel joke for all victims of medical negligence!!
“Our CM is only hoodwinking ordinary citizens of West Bengal with bogus populist messages that will never come true and only enrich the vote bank for her party. Remember all her promises after the horrific fire at the AMRI in 2011 that all guilty doctors and wealthy hospital owners will soon be brought to justice. Six years later, the AMRI is doing business as usual and doctors/owners are roaming free with no ‘justice’ in sight. Only victims’ families are still crying in dark. The present uproar by the CM with the new health bill will be nothing but another pie in the sky.”
Well, the disarrayed Opposition needn’t be upbeat. Getting back the Writers’ will remain a pipe dream.
Mamata knows perfectly well how and when to reach out to the masses. She knows how to win their hearts. Her perfectly-timed move against the predatory private hospitals and medical negligence will win brownie points with voters. We’ve witnessed how people came out in droves to greet the CM when she visited Jalpaiguri recently.