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Ahmednagar hospital fire: Health Minister suspends civil surgeon, 3 staffers

Police sources said the CCTV footage showed staff in the hospital did not react swiftly when the fire was noticed.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: November 9, 2021 12:04:59 am
Ahmednagar hospital fire, Ahmednagar, Rajesh Tope, Maharashtra Health Minister, Pune, Pune news, Indian express, Indian express newsMaharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope had denied that his health ministry had failed to put in safety measures in the hospital, but he had indirectly blamed the Public Works Department. (Facebook/Rajesh Tope)

Days after a fire at Ahmednagar District Hospital claimed 11 lives, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Monday suspended the District Civil Surgeon along with three other staff personnel of the hospital, while the services of two nurses were terminated,

“Based on the information available in the Ahmednagar hospital fire tragedy, we have taken action against some officials…” Tope tweeted.

Tope had denied that his health ministry had failed to put in safety measures in the hospital, but he had indirectly blamed the Public Works Department, another arm of the state government, for delay in submitting the required technical sanction to set up safety measures at the hospital.

Among those suspended are District Civil Surgeon Dr Sunil Pokharna, who has been severely criticised by political parties and activists for his alleged failure to ensure safety measures in the hospital. Two medical officers suspended include Dr Suresh Dhakane and Dr Vishaka Shinde. One permanent nurse has been suspended while the services of two nurses working on contract have been terminated.

District Collector Rajendra Bhosale said he was not aware of the reasons behind the suspension of the hospital staff. “We have not recommended any action so far as our report to the governement will be submitted in a week’s time. I think this decision was taken on the basis of the report submitted by a team of senior officials that was deputed by the government to find out the reasons for the fire tragedy,” he said.

Dr Satish Pawar, additional director, National Health Mission, said, “The suspension of the permanent employees is done so that they do not interfere with the investigation. Suspension is not a punishment… In the probe if they are found guilty, action will be taken against them. If they are not found guilty, no action will be taken. In the case of contractual employees, their services are terminated as the rules of the probe do not apply to them. However, they are told to explain if any charges are levelled against them.”

Pawar was among the health officials who was deputed by the government to do a spot inspection of the hospital ICU. Though Pawar refused to comment about the report submitted to the government, he said it is “obvious that they have been suspended as they had not their job properly”.

Another official said, “When the incident happened, senior doctors and senior nurses were not present at the site. Immediate action was not taken after smoke was noticed in the early stages. The civil surgeon and other medical officers failed to effectively perform their supervisory role.”

Police sources said the CCTV footage showed staff in the hospital did not react swiftly when the fire was noticed.

Earlier in the day, the District Planning and Development Committee meeting presided over by District Guardian Minister Hasan Mushrif also recommended action against the civil surgeon. At a press conference in the hospital premises on Sunday, Tope had promised action against guilty parties on the basis of the report of the committee appointed by the state government. “We will not spare anyone…we have told the committee to submit the report in seven days, he had said.

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