Maharashtra tyrannizing doctors instead of consulting them, says IMA
Days after the Maharashtra government extended the price cap on the treatment of Covid-19 patients in private hospitals, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has decided to hold a peaceful rally against the decision at Azad Maidan on September 10.
All branches of the IMA in Maharashtra will also burn replicas of their medical registration certificates at the branch office or at prominent places.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, around 100 doctors will gather in the morning. We will meet the chief minister with our memorandum and demands,” said Dr Avinash Bhondwe, president of IMA, Maharashtra.
IMA is a pan-India government accredited association of doctors. In Maharashtra, they have 216 branches with over 45,000 registered doctors.
In April, the state government had mandated that private hospitals would have to allocate 20% beds for Covid-19 patients. Out of these, 80% beds are regulated by the civic body.
On August 21, the health department issued a circular extending the duration of the price cap till November 30. The circular also stated that private hospitals can begin charging regular rates for the 50% beds reserved for non-Covid patients, even as the government rates will be applicable to the remaining 50% beds meant for Covid-19 patients.
Following this, the Maharashtra unit of the IMA has come down heavily on the health department for unilaterally extending the Covid-19 price cap on private hospitals without consulting its members. Maharashtra’s Covid-9 tally stands at over 9.23 lakh.
The IMA claims that hospitals are finding it difficult to meet the cost of oxygen, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, biomedical waste charges, staff salaries, disinfection at the current government rates.
“For this, the health minister had convened a meeting to increase the rates, and it was decided to hold a meeting with IMA representatives, before August 31, to discuss the hike. However, without holding such a meeting, the state health secretary issued a circular on August 31 to maintain the rates and add more items in it to make it more unaffordable,” Bhondwe said.
The association had informed the state health minister, Rajesh Tope on September 1 who apparently promised to hold a meeting within three days but till September 8 noon he had not responded.
In an open letter, the IMA said doctors are being unjustly criticised.
“On one hand the unaffordable rates have been forced on the doctors and on the other hand doctors are being prosecuted by sending auditors if there is any minor mistake in the bills prepared with the unaffordable rates. At the same time, ministers and leaders have continuously been proclaiming that the doctors are robbing patients. Because of this unjust criticism the doctors in the state of Maharashtra are losing their self confidence,” reads the open letter of Maharashtra unit of the IMA.
The IMA claims over 150 private doctors have succumbed to Covid-19 while treating patients. But unlike government and municipal employees, they are not eligible for the Covid-19 insurance of Rs 50 lakhs.
“The reason for the failure of the coronavirus pandemic in Maharashtra state lies in the short-sighted, unscientific, inhumane and repressive practices of the administrators, who are fully responsible for controlling the epidemic in this fashion, by tyrannizing the doctors instead of consulting with them. All the citizens know that the contribution of all the private hospitals in controlling the coronavirus outbreak in Maharashtra is invaluable,” said Dr Bhondwe.
Simultaneously, such protests will also be conducted all across the state in front of the administrative offices like collectors, municipal commissioners among others in their respective regions seeking justice for doctors.