The staff crunch in civic hospitals has become so severe that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now considering making a one-year internship mandatory for all post-graduate students from its medical colleges.
If the proposal is approved, it will not only provide manpower for the BMC's short-staffed peripheral hospitals, but also provide the much-needed experience to students. The city's 21 civic hospitals currently have 200 vacant doctors' posts.
Currently, only MBBS students have to serve as interns with civic hospitals, for a year, after the completion of their course.
"The aim of this proposal is to ensure that the problem of staff shortage plaguing the peripheral hospitals is solved," Dr Nilima Kshirsagar, dean of KEM hospital and director of medical education (BMC) said. "But it is still in the discussion stage. If approved, it may come into force from the next academic year."
The BMC currently has around 500 post-graduate students in its three medical colleges in the city – GS Seth Medical College attached to KEM Hospital, Topiwala National Medical College at Nair Hospital and Lokmanya Tilak Medical College attached to the Sion hospital.
"We wanted to ensure that this talent pool was utilised for the 16 peripheral and five special hospitals, which currently face a shortage of over 200 doctors," said Health Committee Chairperson Mangal Mange Bhanushali.
Added Dr GB Parulkar, former dean of KEM Hospital: "This move will ensure that the students get experience and credit, while the hospitals get trained manpower to suit their needs."
In order to retain the existing staff in its hospitals, the BMC has already allowed doctors to go in for private practice in addition to their hospital duties.
Incidentally, Dr Parulkar recalled that when GS Seth Medical College and KEM Hospital were started in 1926, lecturers were hired on a 'practicing basis', meaning that they would also work at a civic hospital. The rule was revoked in the 1950s.
Dr Nitin Ghosewade, president of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), declined comment. "We will wait for the concrete details of the proposal before commenting on it," he said.