West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be camping at SSKM -- the state-run tertiary referral hospital -- once in a week along with senior bureaucrats to make on-the-spot survey for further upgradation of the healthcare system in the state.
It will be the first occasion since the time of the first Chief Minister of the state, Bidhan Chandra Roy, who was also a medical doctor by profession, that a Chief Minister will spend regular hours at a city hospital.
"Healthcare is an important sector for me. The health secretary himself sits at the Swasthya Bhavan. So we have decided to camp at SSKM every Thursday. If I am not in the city, it would be held every 15 days. The purpose of my visit is to address health related issues as early as possible with better monitoring and coordination," Banerjee, who also holds the health portfolio, said during her visit to the SSKM on Thursday evening.
"Many new projects are also coming up at SSKM, including a new cancer hospital in collaboration with the Tata Memorial. I can also monitor the developments taking place at the hospital," she added.
Banerjee will camp at the SSKM along with Chief Secretary H.K. Dwivedi and senior officials of the health department, including Health Secretary N.S. Nigam, to carry out an in-depth study of the infrastructure available in the state-run hospitals.
Banerjee also asked SSKM Director Manimoy Bandyopadhyay to set up the necessary infrastructure so that it can accommodate a dozen officials who would be present with her during her visits to the hospital every week.
The Chief Minister would visit the hospital at 4 pm every Thursday and would be present there for the next three to four hours.
The Chief Minister's decision comes at the time when the state government has introduced Swasthya Sathi Card that provides health insurance coverage for every 10 crore people of the state. The state government has also introduced free treatment at the government healthcare establishments.
"The Chief Minister wants to oversee the execution of different projects personally. She wants to see the implementation of the projects so that the people are not left out of the government benefits. She will personally monitor all the health-related developments and instruct the officials for the fast implementation of the projects," an official said.
Talking about a second cancer hospital that is coming up in Siliguri, Banerjee said that she has asked G.K. Dhali of IPGMER, who had earlier visited Siliguri in connection with setting up of the hospital, to once again visit north Bengal as there are reports of rise in Covid cases on the Sikkim border.
When asked about the condition of her leg, in which she had received injuries during Assembly election campaign at Nandigram and had subsequently campaigned on a wheelchair, Banerjee said: "Last week only there was an MRI on my ankle. It is yet to heal completely and it is still swollen. They (doctors) are saying that it would take another one-and-a-half months to heal completely."