Following the impressive rally at the Brigade Parade Grounds in Kolkata recently, the Left Front and the Congress took up joint programmes in Darjeeling district today. Left and Congress activists marched to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) in Siliguri to express their grievances over the alleged lack of medical facilities there.

Leaders said they would hold more joint programmes as part of their election preparations. “Workers are charged up following the successful rally at the Brigade Parade Grounds on 28 February. We took up the first joint programme today after the rally. We have already organised meetings and rallies and more such programmes will be taken up,” said the district Left Front convener, Jibesh Sarkar.

Sarkar alleged that for the past 10 years, no effort was made to ensure proper health services to the people.

“It appears that focus was laid only on cosmetic development, not on the basic health services. Critical patients are generally referred elsewhere when the NBMCH has the infrastructure. Work to complete the super specialty hospital has made tardy progress. We are demanding that the work be expedited,” he said.

State Congress working president and sitting MLA from Matigara-Naxalbari, Sankar Malakar, former Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad sabhadhipati and senior CPI-M leader Tapas Sarkar were among the leaders who led the rally.

They served a memorandum with a 15-point charter of demands, that include the up-gradation of the hospital to the AIIMS level, immediate introduction of endoscopy, colonoscopy, reintroduction of the day care unit, increase in the number of beds at CCU, and others.

Malakar said the frequent referral of patients should be stopped.

“Many poor patients are frequently referred to Kolkata based hospitals, but they are facing problems there in their treatment. The CT scan machine should be made functional properly. The posts of doctors at many departments have been lying vacant,” he said.

When asked, NBMCH Superintendent Dr Sanjay Kumar Mallick later said that they would look into the issues raised in the memorandum.