Click sleuths catch doctor in private act

Tamluk, Oct. 12: Private eyes to catch private practice.

District authorities in East Midnapore have engaged photographers from local studios to film government doctors indulging in illegal private practice while neglecting patients who have to go back home unattended from state-run health centres.

The snoop drive appears to have clicked. One doctor, Ashok Maity, was caught yesterday examining patients for a fee — it is supposed to be free — at his government quarters instead of the Moyna block health centre where he should have been on duty. Maity has been served with a show-cause and faces suspension.

A health official said two professionals from a studio in nearby Kolaghat were used to record Maity's transgressions. The Moyna panchayat also joined the drive: it provided a villager who posed as the patient.

"One of the two studio professionals stood outside recording how patients were arriving. The other entered the doctor's quarters posing as a relative of the villager who told Maity he was having stomach cramps. The photographer quietly videographed the entire proceedings up to the point where the doctor accepted his fee," said another official.

District chief medical officer of health Asit Baran Guha said he had watched the clip. "Doctors at health centres get a non-practising allowance, which is 25 per cent of their salary. If we find Maity's reply to the showcause unsatisfactory, we will suspend him. There are similar complaints against 10 other doctors, including Swapan Das, chief of the Moyna centre " Guha added.

Maity refused comment, while Das denied he had indulged in private practice. "We are forced to go to the quarters of the doctors and consult them for a fee of Rs 60," said Raja Pandit, 35, a resident of Brindabanchak, near the Moyna health centre.