The Maharashtra government has tweaked its policy for postings of doctors in tribal areas. The government had earlier invited private doctors to quote a salary and negotiate with it for tribal postings, but now the negotiation part has been tweaked and the government is promising doctors incentives for treating each patient besides a fixed salary. Since October, when the process to rope in private doctors in remote areas began, 173 doctors have been given appointments.
In September, the state government had decided to allow private doctors to quote a salary and negotiate with it for tribal postings. The idea was to attract doctors in regions where no one was willing to work. “Now we have modified the policy. We are offering Rs 1 lakh per month as fixed salary and additional incentives based on the number of patients they treat,” said Dr Satish Pawar, director at Directorate of Health Services (DHS).
Under the new policy, apart from fixed salary, doctors will now get incentives such as Rs 4,000 for each caesarean surgery they conduct, Rs 40 for each anti-natal checkup, Rs 1,500 for assisted delivery and Rs 1,200 per paediatric case treated.
The policy has, however, failed to attract attention in districts with highest tribal population, Gadchiroli and Nandurbar, that witness maximum vacancy amongst gynaecologists, paediatricians and anaesthetists.
DHS data until October showed: In Gadchiroli, of 15 posts sanctioned for gynaecologists, only three were filled; of 14 posts for anaesthetist, only one was filled and of 15 posts for paediatricians, only 10 were filled.
Similarly, in Nandurbar, of the 20 posts for gynaecologists, 13 remained vacant; of 18 sanctioned for anaesthetists, 11 were vacant and of 19 for paediatricians, 10 remained vacant. In such cases, patients invariably travel longer distances to other districts, seeking medical care.
The state government is also facing crisis in appointment of anaesthetists. In October, a vacancy of 64 per cent in 648 seats was recorded. While the government planned to pay Rs 4,000 for each visit to anaesthetist on consultancy basis, it is now deliberating on giving them permanent postings just like a gynaecologist or paediatrician in rural and district hospitals.
The state government has identified 245 hospitals as “first preference units”, of which 175 are under state public health department in rural and tribal hamlets. Postings will be focused in these centres.
“The idea was to cut down on transportation cost incurred in taking a patient for treatment over long distances. We also lost on golden hour. Paying doctors a higher salary will ensure we get medical professionals in remote areas,” Dr Pradeep Vyas, state health secretary, had earlier told The Indian Express.