The medical education and drugs department is set to do away with fresh appointments of class IV workers such as helpers and ward boys across all state medical colleges and attached hospitals. From now, private companies will be hired to provide contractual workers in state-run hospitals. The department plans to outsource 1,500 class IV workers.
The privatisation move follows the state government’s inability to recruit fresh candidates for several years amid many employees retiring.
In medical colleges where the number of vacant posts are more than the existing employees, private companies will be roped in to provide manpower. Dean in each hospital can decide which ward or department to hand over to private workforce.
In five new proposed medical colleges in Nandurbar, Baramati, Chandrapur, Jalgaon and Gondia, the entire class IV workforce will be contracted to private companies.
In 18 existing government medical colleges, hospitals deans can decide allocation of workforce. Dr T P Lahane, Director of Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), said, “The standard operating procedure (SOP) and terms and conditions for contractual service is being framed. We are yet to submit a proposal.”
Lahane added that the department will no more appoint class IV workers but the existing staff will be retained. “We have conducted studies and found that the quality of work of class IV workers in our hospitals is poor because they do not fear losing a government job. In case of private contracts, it can be cancelled if the quality of work is poor,” he said.
Dr Ranjit Mankeshwar, Dean of JJ hospital, said the plan to privatise class IV workforce is still in its preliminary stage.
“We will wait for the state government to come up with a SOP first,” he added.
Class IV workers are tasked to clean wards and hospital corridors, change patient’s soiled clothes and sheets, carry test reports and transport patients to other departments for test or referral check-ups. They are also key in coordinating between various departments, often taking medical files to and fro.
Ravi Duggal, an independent public health expert, said privatisation of class IV work will create a middle man and reduce income of the workers. “Private companies will keep a share of profit and pay less to the workers. This latest move is in continuation of the trend to privatise various services. In the past, medical tests, food for patients and laundry have been privatised in government hospitals.”
Several health activists have opposed following the public private partnership (PPP) route in the government health system. Jan Arogya Abhiyaan has consistently opposed all government programmes based on PPP model, explaining that often private companies tend to make profit in the process.
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