India baby deaths spark Calcutta hospital negligence row

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A government-run hospital in Calcutta has been accused of negligence after the deaths of 30 babies admitted to its care in the last four days.

The parents of the dead babies say hospital staff did not give their children the correct medicine and were guilty of mismanagement.

The BC Roy Post-Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences says it did all it could do to prevent the deaths.

It says there was a spike in admissions of ill babies who could not be saved.

Dr Tridib Banerjee, chairman of the Health Department's special task force, said that as BC Roy was a referral hospital, many patients were in a critical state.

"Doctors always try their best but sometimes patients cannot be saved as their condition is very bad," Dr Banerjee told the commercial broadcaster NDTV. "There is not a single case of negligence."

The facility, which provides free health care to poor families, is the largest paediatric centre in eastern India.

In 2011 it was cleared of negligence after the death of 18 babies in two days.

As a result of that inquiry, a new neo-natal unit was installed to provide better treatment.

But critics say the state government needs to invest more money to ensure all sick children receive the best care.

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