Health workers at Bheri Hospital call probe committee’s report unfairMedical fraternity in Banke says the committee failed to provide a fair investigation into all aspects of the incident since it has not addressed the issue of violence against women.
The probe committee—which was formed to investigate last week’s attack on health workers at Bheri Hospital—made public its report on Wednesday, stating that the incident took place as the family of the deceased acted ‘in a fit of rage’ after the health workers ‘failed to give clear answers about the patient’s health to his relatives.’
The committee also suggested that the medical personnel should work on improving relations with the relatives of patients seeking treatment.
Following the findings of the committee, the medical fraternity in Banke has said the committee failed to provide a fair investigation into all aspects of the incident since it has not addressed the issue of violence against women.
Sadiksha Gaire, one of the nurses at the hospital attacked by the relatives of a Covid-19 patient on May 29, feels the report does not do justice to the medical staff, mostly women, who were assaulted.
“The report does not mention anything in regard to the assault on the female medical staff,” said Gaire.
Gaire, who had to face six to seven angry relatives of the deceased, was grabbed by her neck by one of the men of the family.
“I don’t feel safe anywhere anymore. From the moment I step outside my house to go to the hospital until the time I reach home, I fear someone will attack me,” Gaire told the Post. “We may recover from the physical assault but the verbal abuse will stay with us for a long time.”
Ashwini Gurung, another nurse who was attacked, says she too feels threatened and scared after the incident. She questions the report released by the probe committee on its indifference to violence against women.
“The report does not have a single point referring to the violence we had to face that day,” said Gurung.
According to Shila Sharma, nursing in-charge at Bheri Hospital, women health workers have been feeling anxious and unsafe at work since the incident.
“The result of the investigation puts the blame on health workers and forgets to register the assaults on our health workers that day,” said Sharma, who is also the nurse coordinator at the Covid-19 ward of the hospital. “We had submitted an application to the National Women Commission. But the incident has been completely politicised. I don’t feel safe here either.”
The committee said in its report that the relatives of the deceased attacked the health workers impulsively owing to misunderstandings. The shortage of human resources at the hospital during the pandemic and unfolding events after the patient’s demise were the causative factors, says the report.
According to Assistant Chief District Officer of Banke Shankar Bista, also the coordinator of the probe committee formed by the District Administration Office, the committee prepared its report after visiting the incident site and inquiring with the doctors and health workers who were attacked, the accused party, eyewitnesses and attendants of other patients receiving treatment at the Covid-19 ward on the day of the incident.
The 53-year-old man from Dang had been admitted to Bheri Hospital on May 18. The patient was put on ventilator support after his health condition deteriorated on May 27 but he died the same night.
Relatives of the deceased barged into the ward, vandalised the intensive care unit and assaulted the team of doctors and nurses present there, claiming that the patient died due to the negligence of the medical team at the Covid-19 ward. The brothers of the deceased man, Man Bahadur Rawat and Bharat Rawat, and son Lokraj Rawat, among other relatives, attacked the health workers.
Some of the health workers fled the site by jumping off a window from the hospital's first floor.
“The incident seems to have taken place as the health workers could not provide information about the patient’s health issues,” said Assistant Chief District Office Bista.
The protesting health workers have called the report unfair and have decided to continue their protests until their demands are met.
Dr Binod Karna, the chairman of Nepal Medical Council in Banke, said, “Our demands still stand. We want the assailants to face five years in prison. We will continue our protests till our demands are addressed.”
The health workers have been staging demonstrations from 5pm to 6pm every day.
Basanta Gautam, the focal person of Advocate Forum, a rights organisation in Banke, agrees with the medical staff of Bheri Hospital and says that the case of violence against women has been brushed aside in this incident.
“The case of violence against women has been sidelined here. It goes to show that there is no safe working environment for women in this country,” Gautam said.
The District Police Office in Banke had arrested three accused soon after the incident. The accused are in police custody.
“The report submitted by the probe committee has recommended that the deceased’s brothers and son be charged for attempted murder and public offence,” said Chief District Officer Shivaram Gelal.