In an attempt to plug the shortage of health staff, municipal corporations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region are trying to poach doctors and nurses from each other by offering higher salaries.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is currently providing Rs 80,000 to MBBS graduates and Rs 1 to Rs 2 lakh per month to MDs and specialist doctors. The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) had recently put out an advertisement offering Rs 1.25 lakh to MBBS graduates and Rs 2.5 lakh to those holding MD degrees. Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) is offering Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh to MDs.
BMC officials said several doctors and nurses are considering shifting to TMC and NMMC for higher pay. Alarmed that it could lose doctors, the civic body is now contemplating an increase in the salary of doctors.
Thane city, which has recorded 18,320 cases till now, records 300 to 400 new cases every day. Navi Mumbai, with 14,164 cases so far, is also recording 300 to 350 cases daily. Mumbai, with over a lakh cases till now, is recording 1,200 to 1,500 fresh cases daily.
With the number of cases in Thane and Navi Mumbai growing at a faster than Mumbai, the two districts are scaling up their bed capacity and have gone on a hiring spree.
In Mumbai, several nurses have quit private hospital jobs in March and April to join BMC hospitals for higher pay. The exodus is now towards Thane and Navi Mumbai.
A United Nurses Association official said, “Several nurses from rural and interior regions of Maharashtra are also joining work in Thane and Navi Mumbai.”
In Navi Mumbai, the corporation has converted 500 of its 1,000 beds in CIDCO ground into oxygen-equipped beds over the last one week for Covid-19 patients. The corporation has identified three to four premises to set up new Covid facilities. “As we increase the number of beds in a phased manner, we will keep needing more health staffers,” said NMMC Commissioner Abhijeet Bangar.
He added that they have studied the salary structure offered in neighbouring corporations before drafting their advertisements. On July 18, NMMC published a newspaper ad for doctors and nurses, offering Rs 1.25 lakh for MBBS doctors, around Rs 40,000 for nurses and Rs 2.5 lakh for MD specialists. Officials said they wanted to be at par with neighbouring corporations.
“We began interviews on Monday and received a good response. From today, we have started giving appointment letters,” Bangar said. In the next phase, NMMC plans to convert 500 more beds in CICDO equipped with oxygen supply.
TMC, meanwhile, is offering higher salary than private hospitals, BMC and NMMC. “Every day, we are recruiting intensivists, anaesthetists, MBBS doctors and nurses. Only 60 per cent of those who get an appointment letter join duty, the remaining don’t,” said TMC Commissioner Vipin Sharma. Thane is offering as high as Rs 3 lakh per month for specialist doctors.
Dr R N Bharmal, Director (Medical Education), said BMC will submit a proposal on increased salary structure for doctors on Monday.
“Since we have reached a plateau in daily caseload, we can manage with the current staff. But we have decided to still go ahead and offer higher salaries to doctors so that they continue to work here,” said Suresh Kakani, BMC Additional Municipal Commissioner.
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