The government-run JJ Group of Hospitals has taken a step towards public-private partnership in healthcare with the inauguration of a new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) facility at Gokuldas Tejpal Hospital near Crawford Market on Monday.
"The machine at GT will greatly reduce the burden on JJ Hospital's MRI machines. Currently, we have a backlog of one month but it is reducing every day," said Dr TP Lahane, dean of the JJ Group of Hospitals.
The new machine, which is worth Rs 6.73 crore, will be run by a private stakeholder -- First Healthcare Pvt. Ltd - for the next three years in return for a monthly rent of Rs 4 lakh for using GT's land and electricity.
In return, First Healthcare's staff will perform MRI scans for government patients between 8 am to 11.30 am in the morning and 6 pm to 9.30 pm in the evening and for private patients in between to recover costs.
Patients prescribed the test by government hospital will be charged Rs 1,600, which is the standard rate for MRI scan at public hospitals.
With the new machine at GT Hospital and a MRI machine that had been acquired by Sir JJ hospital, Byculla, two weeks ago, the JJ Group now has three MRI machines at its disposal. "The private partner will be required to conduct minimum 12 MRI scans for government patients every day," said Dr Lahane. GT Hospital superintendent Dr A.P. Chaudhari said they had to enter into a partnership because of shortage of manpower and the lack of the radiology department.
"We needed at least 39 people including four radiologists and technicians to run the machine," he said.
A senior doctor said the public-private partnership was a good idea provided the private partner was monitored. "The authorities will have to conduct regular inspections to ensure that the private partner is not exploiting patients," he said.
The new machine will benefit patients going to both GT Hospital and St George Hospital as the latter does not have the facility. A lot of road and railway accident victims are taken to these hospitals but they had to be referred to JJ Hospital for MRI scans till now.
The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India has donated the machine to GT Hospital. The government is pilot testing the public-private partnership model. It may extend the deal after three years.