Not only gas tragedy victims but also doctors, nurses and para-medical staff oppose the Madhya Pradesh government’s move to take over the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC), run by Centre’s health research department.
The state government has been trying to take over the hospital, set up for treatment of the victims of India’s worst gas tragedy, since 2014 citing poor management by the central institute.
But the proposal gained momentum after state health minister Rustam Singh claimed last month that Gauri Singh, the department’s principal secretary, had written to the Centre about the government’s plan following resignation of 15 doctors.
On September 24, state spokesperson Narottam Mishra announced that the government had started the process of taking over the institute, triggering oppositions from the gas victims.
The victims on Wednesday wrote to minister for gas tragedy, relief and rehabilitation Vishwas Sarang against the government’s decision. They claimed the state had already failed to run six other medical facilities under the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief & Rehabilitation Department, a state government organisation.
The para medical, nursing and other employee organisations of the BMHRC on Thursday urged the state government to take back its decision.
Bhopal Memorial Hospital Nursing Association president Pritish Abraham said the hospital would no more be a multi-speciality tertiary care hospital dedicated to gas victims if it is run by the state government.
“The entire administration will collapse,” said Abraham.
More than 700 employees work at the speciality hospital. Though the doctors have not joined the protest openly, they are not happy with the move.
“If the state government takes it over, no good specialist doctors will join the institute,” said one of the senior doctors, who refused to be quoted.
The employees are worried that the state would not be able to mobilise enough fund for development of infrastructure of the hospital. BMHRC gets about Rs 150 crore from New Delhi.
“The cash-strapped state government is under huge pressure, and will not be able to run the hospital,” said Abraham.
“The MRI machines, four anesthesia workstations, as many ICU ventilators, one dialysis machine and one sonography machine, which have been sanctioned by the Centre, will not come now,” the nurses’ association president.
Activist Abdul Jabbar said the state-run hospitals were in a shambles. “Have you seen the poor state of affairs at the Hamidia and Sultania hospitals?”
BMHRC has been the best-maintained hospital because it was always under the direct supervision of the union health and family welfare ministry, the activist said.
Sources close to Sarang said the minister himself was not in favour of the government’s move. But, the minister refused to comment on the issue.