Rackets in private, government hospitals: Mamata

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday urged private hospitals across the state to draw a line between business and service while ordering a stop to child smuggling and kidney rackets in both private and state-run establishments.

“Who gave permission to set up hospitals in the suburbs in name of Kolkata’s PG hospital? No kidney racket will be allowed to run in the name of any hospital or nursing home. There will be no child smuggling in name of nursing homes, whether in private or government set ups,” Banerjee said.

She was speaking at the inauguration of Kamalnayan Bajaj Sankara Nethralaya, the second centre of Sankara Nethralaya in Bengal.

Promising support to private entities in the healthcare sector in the state, the Trinamool Congress supremo, however, warned them against fleecing patients.

“I have no complaints against you (Sankara Nethralaya). You have just started. You are a new-born baby. Let us watch, let us see. It is not our duty to interfere in internal matters. Our state government is ready to provide full cooperation to you (to private sector) but not for fleecing the poor and appeasing some,” she said.

Banerjee cautioned against the unbridled money-making attitude of the private sector.

“If this is allowed to go unbridled, this will not be a business, it will be a butcher shop. Please take care of the commoner and draw a line between business and service. Hospital is not a business. It’s a sacrifice, it’s a self-less service,” she said.

She said the state government’s complaints are not against each and every private hospital rather a section of them.

“This issue (unethical money making) has become important. I readied a bill (for the proposed West Bengal Regulatory Health Commission) before coming to the inauguration. Negligence is a crime. Let us start afresh,” she urged the private sector.

However, Banerjee didn’t spare the government hospitals in her speech for unethical practices.

“There must be some kind of mistake (by both private and government sector) that is why this situation has come. District private hospitals too I appeal to think about drawing a line,” she said.

But she also conceded that government hospital expenses are exceeding the budget and a balance needs to be brought about.

“We are incurring a lot of expense in our own hospitals. I can’t say no to patients from neighbouring states and to treat patients free we are exceeding our budget. We will think about it later, how to bring about a balance,” she said.

In apparent reference to the Apollo Gleneagles patient death where the city based private hospital allegedly refused to release a patient over money and even taking possession of his fixed deposit certificates, Banerjee dubbed it “excess”.

“One girl had come crying to us yesterday (Sunday) saying all savings in the form of fixed deposit certificate was taken up by the hospital. Isn’t this excess? Please do not ask those who can’t afford, to submit fixed deposit certificates or anything like that,” she said.

“Even if somebody tells me that you get admitted to my hospital and I will bill you Rs 5 lakh I will not be able to pay. Should I resort to thievery or dacoity then,” she wondered.