The Nagpada police hospital will soon relinquish its position as the premier institution for conducting medico-legal testing to JJ hospital. A proposal has already been made to the government and a decision is expected soon. Officials want to transfer not only medico-legal cases but also the four postmortem centres under the police surgeon to JJ hospital for smooth functioning.
Additional Chief Secretary (Public Health) Jayant K Banthia confirmed the development to MiD DAY. “The police chief has been suggesting that quality medical assistance be provided to police personnel in the out-patient department (OPD). We are trying to meet this requirement. Since the home department deals with staffing issues at Nagpada police hospital and the four postmortem centres (JJ, Cooper, Bhagwati and Rajawadi), the proposal needs to be reviewed by it before a decision is made,” he said, adding, “The idea is to bring all the centres under a single roof of public health department for better administration and smooth functioning.” Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration) S P Yadav said, “We need to utilise the hospital’s prime locale and offer better services. At present, the hospital has few honorary doctors. They lack in providing quality medical aide and their visits are not regular. There is no radiologist. So we need to come up with a super-specialty OPD centre for handling cases of tuberculosis, asthma, cardiac care etc.”
Yadav added, “The city has nine postmortem centres out of which four are directly under the police surgeon, while the Sion, KEM and Nair centres are under the BMC-run medical College. The GT and St George centres come under the director of public health department.” The government gives a yearly sanction of Rs 4-5 crore to the police surgeon who handles the four centers. Forensic experts attached to the centres said that there are frequent problems in paying electricity and phone bills. And it was only recently that the centres cleared their rent dues — Rs 35,000-40,000 a month — for the last seven years. Senior Mantralaya officials said that a high-level meeting was held a few weeks ago, wherein JJ hospital and Grant Medical College dean T P Lahane, police surgeon S M Patil and other officials met Addl Chief Secy Banthia.
Lahane said, “I have brought to the government’s notice that medico-legal cases across the country are dealt with the Department of Forensics Medicine and Toxicology attached to the medical colleges. We handle the cases and the same can be continued henceforth. The Nagpada hospital should only focus on providing quality treatment on OPD basis. The four postmortem centres should be handed over to BMC hospitals.” Lahane added that after the abolishment of the Coroner Act in 1999, the post of police surgeon was obviated, and the designation may be changed to superintendent of police, hospitals.
Not in favour
However, police surgeon Patil said, “The superior police officers and government officials are being mislead by certain people with vested interests, who are trying to malign the image of Nagpada police hospital, which is over 100 years old. The Coroner Act has been abolished and changes were made in the functioning of postmortem centres. But the power for giving expert opinion on medico-legal cases still rests with the police surgeon and it cannot be changed.” Patil added that apart from treating 175-200 policemen daily in the OPD, the hospital is also playing a crucial role in handling medico-legal cases (see box). Yearly, over 3,000 cases are brought in from 94 police stations across the city for collection of samples, DNA examination, age determination etc, he said. “We have intimated the BMC and state government about the condition of the postmortem centres. The proposal for the upgradation of Nagpada hospital is before the home department and we are expecting a response soon,” said Patil.