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Times of India
08 October 2010
By Sumati Yengkhom
Kolkata, India

Emergency services still on the blink in hospitals
If you break a limb, don’t forget to take a roll of bandage and medicines along to a government hospital. And if there’s a gash that needs stitches, make sure you carry the thread. Forget about life–saving drugs and equipment that are a must in an emergency wing, even the most basic requirements like stitching thread and bandages are often out of stock, leaving patients in the lurch.

Is There Hope For Them?
"We often have to ask the patient to get elementary things like the stitching thread because our supplies often run short. And when we do that, we have to face the wrath of those accompanying the patient," said a doctor at the emergency of RG Kar Medical College and Hospital.

The state government had promised to improve the state of affairs in the emergency wards of government hospitals after junior doctors resorted to a ceasework about two weeks ago. Beefing up security in the face of frequent assaults on them was another condition set by the doctors for withdrawing the agitation. Some of the promised overhauling was supposed to be in place by October first week. But except for some changes in the security front, none of the assured improvements has taken place yet.

The five government hospitals were to get 16 additional trolley boys from October 1. Some of the emergency facilities, too, were to be upgraded. But nothing much has moved except for the visit by health department officials a few days ago. "During the visit, the officials discussed our requirements and even noted them down. As no deadline has been committed for upgrading the emergency facilities, we really don’t know when the much–talked about improved facilities will be in place," rued an official of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.

Life–saving equipment like apparatus for resuscitating patients with respiratory distress, injections for controlling excessive bleeding, specially for accident victims, ECG and USG machines, provision for blood electrolyte and routine blood count estimation in emergency, nebuliser masks and medicines are some of the requirements for an emergency wing. But most of these are not available.

"There was supposed to be a display board to report vacant beds. But even such a small requirement has not been met. Nothing much has moved after all the assurances," said a junior doctors of SSKM Hospital. "In the absence of a trauma care and critical centre, a mini–operation theatre at the emergency could have helped doctors and patients.

But despite promises, there is no sight of such an OT in the immediate future," said a doctor at the emergency of NRS Medical College and hospital.

The only thing that has moved so far after the recent agitation is the appointment of an inspector at the police outpost attached to the respective hospital in place of a sub–inspector.

"Even if we haul up the existing facilities, it is impossible to compare a government hospital to a corporate one. The main problem here is the huge patient load. Hospitals have been asked to submit their requirements for upgrading the emergency facilities. We will try and streamline things as soon as we get the specifications," said director of medical education, Soumendranath Banerjee.

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