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Government hospitals may soon open doors to private doctors

Government hospitals may soon open doors to private doctors

Doctors engaged in private practice could soon be treating patients in government hospitals to improve public healthcare. The labour ministry is looking to hire such medical practitioners at salaries equal to or higher than the market rate to serve in government-run employee state insurance hospitals.

The labour ministry may offer shorter working hours and the option of operating from their own clinics to such doctors, said a government official.

The move is expected to broaden the coverage of government healthcare facilities for workers enrolled under the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) programme across the country besides addressing the shortage of doctors at ESIC hospitals.

ESIC, under the labour ministry, provides for medical care and cash benefits in the event of illness, maternity, disablement and death due to employment injury to all workers under the Employees’ State Insurance Act. ESIC beneficiaries number about 120 million. ESIC hospitals currently don’t hire doctors who’ve graduated from private medical colleges or are in private practice, restricting the talent pool available for rendering quality healthcare services.

However, some states and even the Centre, hire some of them on contract basis when faced with a shortage. But few doctors are willing to serve because of much lower salaries than the market rate even for full-time physicians. Besides, they have to serve at an ESIC hospital and can’t use their own clinics. “There is an acute shortage of doctors and we would like to rope in private doctors to address the issue on a nationwide scale,” said the official cited above, adding that the cost will be borne by the govt.

Out of 160 ESIC hospitals, around 35 are run by the central government and the rest by the respective state governments.

The Centre contributes Rs.3,000 per insured person per year. Currently, ESIC has 31.9 million insured persons with benefits extending to their family members, taking the total number of beneficiaries to more than 120 million.

Conservative estimates suggests that ESIC hospitals have 567 vacancies for general practitioners and 382 for specialists. Under the Act, medical benefits are available to an insured person and her family from the day she enters employment.

This includes primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare services such as preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative services. Outpatient services are provided through dispensaries while inpatient services can be availed of either at ESIC hospitals or arrangements with other facilities.

Source : ET

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