The Union Labour and Employment Ministry is seeking to hire doctors engaged in private practice at higher or equal salaries in a bid to improve public healthcare.
According to a government official, the ministry might also allow such doctors shorter working hours and the option of operating from their own clinics, Economic Times reported.
The move is likely to increase the coverage of government healthcare facilities for workers enrolled under the Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) programme across India apart from countering the problem of shortage of doctors at the ESIC hospitals.
This insurance provides medical care and cash benefits in times of illness, maternity, disablement and death due to employment injury to all workers under the Employees' State Insurance Act. It covers around 120 million beneficiaries.
However, at present, the ESIC hospitals do not hire doctors who have graduated from private medical colleges and also the ones who are in private practices which stop many skilled doctors from catering to wider healthcare services.
Although in times of shortage, some states and even Centre hire doctors on a contract basis, most of the private doctors refuse to serve because of lower salaries than the market rate even for full-time doctors.
According to reports, government hospitals are under pressure due to a rising number of patients, limited infrastructure and personnel. These hospitals generally have a long waiting period, running into days to one consultation.
"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.
According to the latest data by the Union Health Ministry, the number of doctors at public health centres is about 3,000 less than the desired strength of 25,650 as of March 2017.
India requires 65,018 nursing staff at public health centres and community health centres. There is a shortage of 13,194.
The requirement of specialists is 22,496 but the shortfall is 18,347.