GANGTOK: Four consecutive deaths in Gangtok's Central Referral Hospital of Manipal group has citizens outraged in the Himalayan state, amid calls for action against the hospital for negligence.

The case that triggered a collective public outcry was the death of Jagat Bahadur Chettri, whose family alleged that he remained unattended for more than two hours in front of the emergency ward of the hospital. After a head injury in his native Turuk Melli he was admitted to the District Hospital, Namchi from where he was referred to CRH Manipal, Gangtok.

His daughter, Ashika Chettri alleged that they had reached the hospital at 7pm but were left unattended till 9pm. The condition of her father deteriorated as the family urged the hospital staff to attend to the patient.

Next day the hospital administration conducting, in damage control mode, addressed press conference where they only assured formation of a committee to look into cases of negligence. They refused to comment on the allegation of negligence by the families of the deceased.

With Sikkim’s main multi speciality STNM hospital having been turned into a dedicated COVID-19 facility, patients suffering from other ailments are facing the pressure. This has severely strained the health sector of Sikkim with CRH Manipal being the only option available.

Another case that added to the public outcry was of a mother of two who was brought to the hospital with Sepsis (blood stream infection). Her condition had stabilized but according to her family a carelessly administered injection led to her death. The hospital authorities said that the patient choked on a cucumber she was eating and died. The deceased woman's husband has denied the hospital's statement.

The hospital has been facing a serious backlash for past several days. The Sikkim Progressive Youth Forum came down heavily on the state government for complete negligence of government hospitals.

"Unless the government hospitals improve the situation will not change in Sikkim and private hospitals will have a monopoly in the health sector," the youth forum members said.

The state government has formed a high level fact finding committee to investigate the reasons leading up to these deaths. The committee will be chaired by Principal Secretary, Health Department, K Sreenivasulu.

The fact-finding committee, which includes Secretary, UD&HD, Sarala Rai, and Secretary, Coordination, COVID-19, Rinzing Chewang Bhutia, has been directed to enquire into the matter in detail and submit their findings to the State Government within three days.

Nitesh R Pradhan is a journalist based in Gangtok.