Even as the Shiv Sena’s 2007 manifesto promised that all Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) hospitals would be equipped with latest technology to provide quality healthcare by 2012, the current condition of the civic hospitals, particularly the 16 peripheral hospitals of the city, is a clear indication of a promise unfulfilled. The healthcare budget increased to Rs 2,183.10 crore in 2011-2012 from Rs 752.87 crore in 2007-2008.
However, frequent staff strikes and protests, hospital deaths and controversies have plagued the BMC’s healthcare department for the last five years.
The KEM redevelopment plan, building of the trauma centre at Ajgaonkar and the Shatabdi renovation have found a constant mention in the BMC manifestos every year since 2007. A budget of Rs 692.66 crore was allocated in 2007-08 for the redevelopment of KEM Hospital, which included five quarters, student hostel building and staff quarters. In the same year, Rs 24 crore was allocated to redevelop the Shatabdi Hospital in Kandivali and convert it into a 120 bedded super specialty hospital. In 2010, Rs 40 crore was proposed for the development of the Ajgaonkar plot in Jogeshwari to construct a 266 bed trauma hospital.
While work at KEM has mostly been smooth and might meet its deadline of 2012, the Ajgaonkar project met with technical glitches in 2010, due to which the project plan had to be changed. Shatabdi Hospital inaugurated its OPD department last year, but the other phases of the hospital are far from completion. “These are ongoing projects and work is underway. They will be completed very soon, mostly in the next financial year” said additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar.
Seven Hills row
As part of BMC’s major Public Private Partnership (PPP) in healthcare, it entered into an agreement with the Seven Hills Hospital in 2005. The five-star hospital at Marol was inaugurated by Pratibha Patil in 2010 and is spread across 7 acres of BMC land. The BMC and the hospital authorities got into a dispute over the hospital’s decision to mortgage the hospital and acquire loan. The two parties also had differences regarding the proportion of free treatment to be given to the poor and the number of BMC operated beds in the super specialty hospital. In July 2011, the BMC decided to move court against Seven Hills.
Burdened with long working hours, poor working conditions and paltry pay, nurses and doctors at civic hospitals have struck work innumerable times over the last