The Maharashtra government, which is struggling to contain CoVID-19, will recruit 25,000 in the health department alone in the next few months. This is necessitated, as there are, at present, 15,000 doctors required immediately to treat the rapidly increasing positive cases across the state.
Tope told the Free Press Journal that he had initial talks with Deputy Chief minister Ajit Pawar, who is also the minister of finance and planning. He informed that his department will soon chalk out a detailed recruitment plan to be implemented in the next few months.
Tope’s announcement comes close on the heels of the directive issued by the department of medical education and drugs, asking private practitioners to report for CoVID-19-related work. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which is a red zone, currently has about 10,000 doctors. The government hopes that another 10,000 to 15,000 private medical practitioners joining in will help bridge the gap of the number of doctors required in government hospitals and quarantine and isolation facilities.
Tope’s move is crucial as the departments of public health and medical education and drugs have been declared as priority departments and have been excluded from the 67 per cent cut imposed by the state government as an austerity measure in the planned expenditure due to the coronavirus crisis. These departments have been permitted to strengthen health infrastructure and recruit necessary personnel, including doctors, nurses and paramedics.
The state government, in the annual budget for 2020-21, has allocated 4.3 per cent of its expenditure for the health sector, which is lower than the average allocation for health by the states (5.3 per cent). The government has earmarked Rs 17,288 crore for health and family welfare against Rs 16,661crore in the revised estimate of 2019-20
Meanwhile, Tope took a serious note of the inflated bills charged especially by private hospitals to CoVID-19 patients and warned that the government will initiate stern action against them. He was reacting to a bill of Rs 4.25 lakh charged by Mumbai’s leading private hospital. He informed that the government has fixed the charges to be recovered by these hospitals from the patients.