For the first time since its inception two decades ago, PBT held its first ever virtual conference with supporters and members across different states in India and USA via Zoom on Wednesday (December 30, 2020). PBT founding-president, Dr. Kunal Saha, hosted the online meeting from his residence in Ohio, USA as many victims of medical negligence narrated their personal long-drawn fight for justice. Among the agendas for the coming 2021, expedited disposal of all complaints of medical negligence in consumer courts across India, financial exploitation of the hapless patients by the powerful private hospitals and doctors as well as thorough cleansing of corruption within the medical regulatory authorities including the medical councils were highlighted at this virtual seminar. It was also announced that PBT head office in Kolkata has started normal functioning following closure for the past 7-8 months due to the COVID pandemic.
A memorandum was sent to the West Bengal government after the Mamata Banerjee-led state health department started to widely publicize a seemingly impossible promise that all residents of the state will be covered under a free “Swasthya Sathi” scheme that would pay up to Rs. 5 lakh each year for medical cost. This sweeping claim by the Trinomul-government just prior to the assembly election next year appears to be nothing more than a political gimmick because it would be economically almost impossible since while the entire healthcare budget of the state is merely Rs. 11,000 crore, covering each one of the almost 10 crore Bengal residents itself may require more than hundreds times or more than the entire budget. PBT also highlighted the shocking failure of the central government to provide proper treatment and timely vaccine against COVID-19 and vouched that they will bring more PILs on these failure of the state and central government before the High Courts and Supreme Court on behalf of the ordinary people of India. PBT also called all conscientious citizens, other bona fide NGOs and honest doctors to step forward and join our battle for medical justice.