Says wards at the hospital woefully inadequate to accommodate patients

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan has sought a judicial probe into the deaths that took place at the Mental Health Centre (MHC) at Peroorkada.

Speaking to mediapersons after a visit to the hospital here on Wednesday, he said the wards at the hospital were woefully inadequate to accommodate the number of patients here.

“Four months ago (following the death of Satnam Singh), the Minister for Health had visited the centre and made lofty promises, but nothing worthwhile has been done,” Mr. Achuthanandan said.

To a query on the investigation being conducted by the Department of Health, he said that rather than a departmental inquiry, a thorough study by an independent judicial body was the need of the hour.

Being an institution for the mentally impaired, he said that it was imperative that there were more cells to lodge those who needed more careful treatment. Another issue he underlined was the paucity of staff.

Lamenting about how dismissive successive governments had been about their plight, the attendants listed a slew of issues that plagued the functioning of the hospital.

“There are 132 attendants and we have all been part of the institution for the past 13 years. For the first 10 years, we worked on daily wages. In 2010, we were converted to yearly contract basis. After so many years of service, there is no valid reason as to why we are not being made permanent employees,” a worker said.

Others said that they had received no benefits or leave despite the whole array of duties they had to partake in, during their shifts which most of the time extended to more than two hours beyond the stipulated working time. Aside from patient care, which included taking them for check-ups to the Medical College Hospital and escorting them back to their hometown which could be as far away as Srinagar, these workers were also responsible for gardening and kitchen work.

They insisted on appointing at least 80 more grade II attendants and 25 nurses. “Our hands are full. There is only one staff to look after 40 patients in a ward. If you go running behind one, who is left to look after the rest? In these conditions, the authorities always blame us,” said another attendant.

Another point of contention raised by the workers pertained to the transfer of Hospital Superintendent G. Sunilkumar. “In just a year of his tenure, he has brought about many improvements and rehabilitative measures here,” said a social worker.