Good News Mumbaikars! Medical emergency helpline 104 is back and ringing

Nov 09, 2017, 16:37 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

State health department restarts emergency civic hospitals' helpline, receives over 140 complaints in just nine days of launching

In the nine days since the emergency helpline 104 was relaunched to accept all medical grievances of Mumbaikars, it has received at least 140 complaints. Most of them are about the unavailability of doctors in hospitals. According to state health department sources, the helpline receives more than 20 complaints against doctors every day. In March this year, Mumbai's medical emergency services took a hit after doctors went on strike.

State health minister says citizens can help the government tackle the crisis by immediately reporting about the unavailability of doctors at various hospitals
State health minister says citizens can help the government tackle the crisis by immediately reporting about the unavailability of doctors at various hospitals

The strike was to protest the violence against their fraternity by the kin of patients. Following the incident, the Bombay High Court had ordered disciplinary action against many resident doctors and urged them to resume work immediately. While the issue has long been dealt with, doctors around the city continue to skip visits.

Citizens can report about the unavailability of doctors at hospitals
Citizens can report about the unavailability of doctors at hospitals

Earlier, the helpline only offered help under the blood-on-call service, wherein a motorcycle-riding health department representative delivered packages of blood to patients, within an hour in the radius of 40 km. While 104 continues to offer this service, now, people can also lodge complaints with the helpline. If a doctor or a hospital is found to be at fault, following investigations by the state health department, they will be served notices to mend their ways. The helpline also guides people to the nearest hospital or local doctor in case of emergencies.

Also read: Unified helpline number for Maharashtra?

The issue
Speaking to mid-day, a senior health officer from the Directorate of Health Service (DHS), said, "Every month, we receive several complaints about the unavailability of doctors in city hospitals. In order to check doctor attendance issues, the state government had made biometric attendance compulsory across hospitals, but, even then, the number of complaints hasn't gone down. By relaunching this helpline and adding the new feature wherein citizen can lodge complaints with the health department, we wanted to give people a direct channel to file complaints against the offenders. We feel it is a step in the right direction and will help Mumbaikars immensely in the days to come."

State health minister Deepak Sawant said, "We have got numerous complaints pertaining to the dearth of on-duty doctors in hospitals. Citizens can help us tackle this crisis by reporting the unavailability of doctors. It will make the doctors more answerable. It will also help us monitor and rectify the attendance situation in hospitals in the state."

The punishment
Apparently, the health department will investigate the complaints within 48 hours of them being lodged. Doctors with dismal attendance run the risk of getting suspended, too.

Speaking to mid-day, Dr Satish Pawar of DHS, said, "We will pay close attention to the complaints and react to them within a span of 48 hours. Strict action will be initiated if the doctor was found unavailable due to invalid reasons. Besides deducting their payments for the day, the errant doctors will also be served notices. Further action may follow a detailed investigation into the complaints."

48
No. of hours within which the dept will react to complaints

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