Probes at various levels have been ordered on Friday into allegation that gynaecologists at the Cherthala Taluk Hospital conducted several caesarean operations on pregnant women without waiting for the actual delivery date, so that the doctors could proceed on leave.

The issue came out first in the vernacular media, with relatives of some patients at the hospital alleging that about 21 caesarean operations were conducted in the span of two days, on Wednesday and Thursday, so that the four gynaecologists could proceed on leave from Friday to Sunday. The relatives also complained that several of the mothers, who were allegedly forced to be subjected to the surgery, had to be accommodated on the floor of the post-surgical labour ward, since the beds were full due to the ‘mass operation’.

With television channels airing the story, political organisations protested, with the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and the All India Youth Federation (AIYF) taking out protest marches to the hospital.

District Collector P. Venugopal told The Hindu that based on media reports, he had asked for a report from District Medical Officer K.M. Sirabuddin. Nothing much could be commented on the issue before the report arrived, he said. The Director, Health Services, too has initiated a probe into the issue following directions from Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy.

Dr. Sirabuddin told The Hindu that he had asked for a report from the Hospital Superintendent on the number of caesareans and normal deliveries that each gynaecologist had handled in the last four days. The DMO himself would visit the hospital on Saturday to examine the case sheets in the gynaecology and labour wards to ascertain whether the caesareans were actually necessary. Based on this, a report would be submitted to the higher-ups at the earliest, he said.

An exact number of the caesareans conducted and why would be known only after the probe, he said, adding that the figures that appeared in the vernacular media could not be confirmed at this moment.

Meanwhile, as the issue snowballed into a major controversy, hospital authorities arranged beds from other wards for the mothers and their newborns and at the same time, prevented media persons from entering the ward.