The Maharashtra government has informed the Bombay High Court that there are over 20,402 vacant posts of doctors at various levels in the state hospitals as against the sanctioned strength of 57,714 posts. Of these, 893 posts super speciality cadre posts are vacant as against the sanctioned strength of 1,707.
Affidavits by 4 departments of state government reveal the vacancies
This has been revealed through the affidavits filed by four different departments of the state government, pursuant to the HC direction on October 6 when it took suo motu (on its own) cognisance of patients deaths at two staterun hospitals in Nanded and Sambhajinagar. The vacant posts are cumulative of all four departments.
According to officials, 31 patients, including many infants, died at the Dr Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital in Nanded in 48 hours since September 30, while the death of 18 patients was recorded at the Government Medical College and Hospital at Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar, earlier known as Aurangabad, on October 2-3.
Expert committee formed
The principal secretary of the Medical Education and Drugs Department (MEDD), Dinesh Waghmare, has filed an affidavit contending that immediately after the incidents of patients’ deaths, an expert committee comprising Dr Deelip Mhaisekar (director of DMER) and several other senior doctors was formed.
The committee studied the reasons for patients’ deaths and observed that there was no negligence on the part of the hospital, the affidavit added. An affidavit by the Public Health Department said that Rs8,674.85 crore has been budgeted for 2023-24 for procurement of medicines and equipment.
For Dr Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital at Nanded, Rs3 crore were sanctioned for purchase of medical equipment; Rs1.16 crore for kits and reagents and Rs5.54crore for medicines and surgical equipment.
For 10,959 posts, the state has received 1,53,675 applications
The respective amounts for the same for Government Medical College and Hospital at Chattrapati Sambhaji Nagar was Rs2 crore, Rs10 lakh and Rs10 crore, said the affidavit by the joint secretary in the Public Health Department, Ashok Atram. Emphasising that the state government is taking all the necessary steps to fill the vacant steps, the affidavit states that a review meeting was held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde regarding the strengthening of the state health sector, including additional budgetary allocation and supplemental provisions.
The Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) published an advertisement on September 13 to fill up the vacant posts, with the public health department getting necessary sanction for recruitment from the General Administration Department. Moreover, the department has initiated the process to fill up 422 posts through departmental promotions. For recruitment of doctors at various levels for 10,959 posts, the state has received 1,53,675 applications.
Maharashtra Medical Procurement Authority
The examination will be conducted in December this year, the affidavit added. To cut short the lengthy process of procurement of medicines and equipment, in May 2023, the government established a special Maharashtra Medical Procurement Authority. From June 2017 onwards, the Haffkine Institute used to procure medicines.
In all 71 Institutes colleges, hospitals and health care centres/ units are run by the state through the Department of Medical Education and Drugs. According to the MEDD affidavit, for 2022-23, the budget for procurement of medicines was Rs120.65 crore. For 2023- 24, the budget sanctioned is Rs174.40 crore, of which till date only 30% of the grant is received; Rs22.95 crore is spent at the institutional level.
Sanctioned amount for procuring medical equipment, Rs234.90 crore
The sanctioned amount for procurement of medical equipment was Rs234.90 crore in 2022-23. Of this, Rs164.43 crore was received, of which Rs21.32 crore was spent at institute level and Rs20.98 crore was given to Haffkine Institute for procurement. An affidavit by deputy secretary to the MPSC Devendra Tawde states that since 2021, it has received a total of 535 requisitions from the Medical Education and Drugs Department. The MPSC has received a total of 276 requisitions, of which 224 were requisitioned in August- September.
An affidavit by chief executive officer of Maharashtra Medical Goods Procurement Authority Lahuraj Mali, who took charge on October 10, states that the authority was established for speedier procurement of required medicines and equipment. Till October 16, it has received proposals amounting to Rs263,82,47,046. The HC has kept the matter for hearing on December 7.