The growing number of attacks on hospital staff and doctors - the most recent being the murder of a 48-year-old woman doctor, Dr Vijaya Chaudhary in a Jalgaon municipal hospital mortuary - and the abduction of infants from hospital premises have forced the home department to get a move on improving the security at hospitals.
Responding to questions raised in the legislative council on Monday, the home department said it would be preparing a security master plan for all government hospitals that are attached to medical colleges. The hospitals will also be asked to appoint private security outside the Intensive Care Units and paediatric wards, which have been identified as two of the most vulnerable areas in hospitals.
"It will be impossible for us to provide policemen at every hospital as the requirement will be huge. The need will be about 100 police personnel for a single 500-bed hospital," minister of state for home Satej Patil said in the legislative council. "Apart from the policemen we have provided to lodge medico-legal cases, we can post one additional police personnel. We expect hospitals to provide private security outside wards and install CCTVs."
The minister was responding to a question raised by legislator Sudhir Tambe on the poor implementation of the law framed to protect doctors from attacks by patients' relatives. "The policemen don't seem to know that attacking doctors is a non-bailable offence," Tambe said, pointing out that the law also calls for a police chowky in each hospital.
Sena legislator Deepak Sawant said ICUs and paediatric wards are vulnerable but have no security. "These are areas where patients die and children are abducted from. There are always face incidents in these two wards. Even a single uniformed policeman there could make a huge difference," Sawant said. He demanded that cases of attacks on doctors should be put in fast-track courts.
In June 2011, state medical education minister Vijaykumar Gavit had claimed that CCTVs would be installed in emergency units in 17 public hospitals, but nothing has been done. A senior home department official said: "The estimated cost is Rs 5 crore and a provision is expected to be made in the upcoming budget."