Mumbai: Top private doctors will now treat prisoners
In a first, state jail officials have roped in super specialists from 400 renowned hospitals across state to treat inmates
Nanavati Hospital falls under the Charity Commission. File pic
Thousands of prisoners in the state will soon be able to cut the hospital queue. They will be treated for free in jails by specialists from corporate hospitals that come under the Charity Commission. The first-of-its-kind initiative will lessen the burden on doctors at government hospitals and curb delay in treatment.
On an average, 50 inmates from major jails in and around Mumbai are daily taken to government hospitals for treatment. This often increases the load on these already short-staffed hospitals and, subsequently, delays prisoners' treatment. To address this, by March-end, specialists from over 400 corporate hospitals across the state will be roped in to treat the inmates.
Cutting the queues
"Under the Charity Commission, corporate hospitals are supposed to provide 25 per cent of their resources for treatment of below-poverty-line patients and other special cases. So, we have asked all registered charity hospitals to provide treatment to prisoners as outpatients under the same reserved quota," said Charity Commissioner Shivkumar Dighe.
There are 74 charitable corporate hospitals, including Jaslok, Nanavati, Lilavati, Hinduja and Wockhardt, in Mumbai, and over 400 in Maharashtra. Across the state, there are 54 jails housing over 30,000 inmates. "Inmates have to wait in long queues, and sometimes, they even end up missing their turn. This initiative is an effort to smoothen the process. We will issue a circular to all the hospitals by the end of next week," Dighe said.
Jail officers to decide
Welcoming the initiative, Additional Director General of Police (prisons) B K Upadhyay said this would lessen the burden on them as well and they would be able to hold more health camps inside jails with the help of the specialists. "It's an extremely encouraging initiative for better treatment of inmates. We can call doctors from these hospitals not only for emergency cases, but also for holding health camps," he added.
The decision on when to call in specialists will rest with the jail authorities. If any inmate complains of health issues, jail officers will take a call on whether to send the inmate for treatment to a government hospital or to ask specialists to come in. "If the specialists refuse, it would be a violation of rules under the Charity Commission, and we would take appropriate steps against them," said Dighe.
Dr P M Bhujang, president, Association of Hospitals, said hospital representatives had already held two meetings with the Charity Commission, but they still needed to discuss a few essential points with the jail authorities. "It is a good initiative. We will provide treatment on an OPD basis. But we are still unclear on a few points, regarding the legal line on the procedures. So, we need to discuss that with the jail authorities. It will take some time to implement this," Bhujang added.
Approximate no. of hospitals across state under Charity Commission
Number of hospitals in Mumbai under the commission
Total number of prisons spread across Maharashtra
Approximate number of inmates in jails across the state
Average number of inmates taken to govt hospitals daily
Reservation corporate hospitals must keep for BPL patients, spl cases