Tripura: Doctor suspended over post on outsourcing of services; hospital claims it was for misconduct

Tripura, April 2: Five days after a Tripura doctor was suspended over a Facebook post on outsourcing of CT scan services at the Tripura Medical College and Dr BR Ambedkar Teaching Hospital, the governing society of the institution on Thursday issued a statement saying that the medico had been suspended for her misconduct with the CEO.

Dr Anindita Bhowmik, a serving physiotherapist at the medical college commented on the procedure adopted for outsourcing CT Scan services in a Facebook post on March 24, claiming the process involved corruption.

She is also the daughter of sitting BJP MLA Arun Chandra Bhowmik.

Instead of buying a new machine, (the) corrupt OSD granted supply order to (a) private organization without tender. Unfortunate singer trader wails at surprising outsourcing”, the physiotherapist wrote on Facebook.

Three days later, she was served a suspension order by TMC and Dr BR Ambedkar Teaching Hospital CEO Swapan Saha.

“…a disciplinary proceeding against Smt Anindita Bhoumik, Physiotherapist, Society for Tripura Medical College and Dr BR Ambedkar Teaching Hospital, Hapania, Agartala is contemplated…therefore, Hospital places the said Smt. Anindita Bhoumik, Physiotherapist under suspension with immediate effect,” the order read.

She was also asked not to leave the city without obtaining prior permission from the CEO. Reacting to the order of her being suspended, the Tripura Doctor Anindita wrote on social media that she is considering challenging it. “Grateful for being served (a) suspension order without any reason. The path of the fight is straighter now. Jai Hind”, she wrote.

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In an interview with a local television channel later, she said that she was considering legal steps against the ‘baseless’ suspension order.

She also claimed that her legislator-father was summoned by the medical college authorities over her social media post and ‘harassed’. Her suspension drew flak on social media, with netizens labelling the move as a denial of her freedom of expression.

Five days after the order and the social media storm that it triggered, the medical college authorities on Thursday clarified their stand on the issue, saying the proper procedure was followed in outsourcing CT Scan services.

Tripura Medical College and Dr BR Ambedkar Teaching Hospital was financially suffering from its old CT Scan machine. So, an Executive Committee meeting held on 07/07/2020 considered the economic conditions and decided to outsource CT Scan services,” a statement released by the institution said.

It also claimed that two agencies, based in Kolkata and Agartala, participated in an e-tender held on October 16, 2020. The Agartala-based agency bid CT Scan rates which were above those prescribed by the hospital.

The governing body, in a second round of meeting in January, this year, decided to explore proposals of buying a new machine altogether and rework the deal with agencies that had placed bids during the tender process.

The review is claimed to have revealed that procuring a new CT Scan machine would give way less revenue than what it cost, over the next ten years.

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A revised understanding with the Agartala-based bidder was reached whereby it was decided that the agency would be granted the outsourced service, the statement by the medical college claimed, adding that Bhoumik posted on social media without having full knowledge of the process.

It also claimed she was explained about the process several times in vain following which her father came to know about the issue from “some other source” and reached out to the authorities to discuss.

He came and discussed in a cordial manner. Two hours later, Smt. Bhoumik entered the room of the CEO and charged him with harassing her father by summoning him to the college. Despite several explanations, Smt. Bhoumik threatened the CEO with legal action and misbehaved with him, which is tantamount to insulting him”, the official statement said, adding that the suspension order was drawn up in its aftermath.