A doctor working in a state-run district hospital was suspended by the Health Department for alleged Facebook posts in which he described the condition of the healthcare facilities, the plight of the patients and his challenges as a doctor amid an outbreak of dengue in the state.
According to West Bengal Doctors' Forum, which protested the state government's move, it appeared the state government or health department found a purported Facebook post as "derogatory to the image of the government".
In a statement, the forum said the suspension letter also mentioned that his social media posts and comments were unverified.
In his posts, Arunachal Dutta Choudhury posted at Barasat District Hospital in North 24 Parganas district, claimed that about 500 people were admitted to the hospital on October 6 and he struggled to diagnose the patients many of whom were lying on the floor.
"People are dying of fever. I am trying to console them (in government term, counselling them) and I am writing the cause of death... not dengue. In the death certificate, I am writing 'fever with thrombocytopenia... not dengue," Dutta Choudhury said in his post.
He also alleged there was an "unwritten order to suppress" the hospital's "ailing condition".
On the government move, Dutta Choudhury said: "I have nothing to say. I am a government employee. It is up to the government whether I will continue with my job or not. The government will decide. I have got the suspension letter."
Despite several attempts, the government officials could not be reached for comments.
The forum's statement, issued by its President Rezaul Karim, said: "What we gather from social media post is a set of pictures in a government hospital reflecting a crowded ward.
"As a sensitive citizen, he showed his frustration and anguish in not being able to deliver the required standard of care because of immeasurable workload and overcrowding. He has not commented on the performance of the government...."
On October 30, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that among the 40 dengue deaths, 13 who perished in state-run hospitals were confirmed cases. The government was cross-checking reports of 27 others suspected to have died of the disease in private health facilities.
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