‘Chief Minister did not want to cause inconvenience to the patients'

As a huge crowd collected, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee aborted her scheduled visit to a State-run hospital midway here on Saturday reportedly because she “did not want to cause inconvenience to the patients.”

Moments after her car entered the R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital compound, Ms. Banerjee asked her convoy to make an about-turn on seeing the surging crowd.

Following a series of ‘surprise' visits to different State-run hospitals in the past one week to run a first-hand check on their working conditions as well as patient-feedback, it was Ms. Banerjee's first announced visit to a hospital where she was also scheduled to inaugurate three new facilities.

Ms. Banerjee holds the Health and Family Welfare portfolio in the Cabinet along with eight other portfolios.

Later, State Health Secretary M.N. Roy said: “Seeing the huge crowd, Ms. Banerjee did not want to cause inconvenience to the patients. She has promised to visit the hospital again soon. She has also asked the authorities to start running the new facilities without any formal inauguration.”

A massive crowd started assembling on the hospital premises since morning as the news of the Chief Minister's visit spread. Police personnel deployed to manage the crowd were outnumbered by the people in their hundreds who had gathered to catch a glimpse of Ms. Banerjee.

A similar crowd-related issue incidentally led to the suspension of the Director of the State-run Bangur Institute of Neurology on Thursday. Director S.P. Gorai invited the Chief Minister's ire after complaining about crowding in hospital compounds during her unscheduled visits. She later charged him with non-cooperation.

The interiors of most of the buildings in the campus housing speciality departments wore a scrubbed look while every nook and corner of the campus was sterilised with bleaching powder for the visit.

Ms. Banerjee was scheduled to inaugurate 36 beds at the Institute of Cardiovascular Science building's new general ward, 16 new beds in the intensive coronary care unit and an artificial valve-bank where valves collected from dead bodies will be preserved for transplanting to patients suffering from valve malfunction.

Several patients who were transferred to the new ward for the inauguration sounded disappointed when they were informed that the Chief Minister had left without meeting them.

The medical staff, too, felt let down following the initial euphoria.