Close to 24 per cent of doctors across Maharashtra turned out to elect their representatives to the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) on Sunday. The voting was conducted at 120 booths in medical colleges across 36 districts in Maharashtra from 8 am until 5 pm. “The turnout was good this time. A lot of doctors came out to vote because of greater awareness,” said Dr Jayesh Lele, president of Indian Medical Association, that had nominated nine of its members for the elections.
Of 85,000 doctors, 20,300 doctors voted on Sunday to elect their representatives. Last time, the voter turnout was 13 per cent. This year, the highest rose to 40 per cent in Nashik and in Jalna, where 50 per cent doctors turned up to cast their vote. In Mumbai, the turnout was poorer, at 16 per cent, despite a lot of awareness campaigns. While 1,300 doctors voted in the city, 2,289 voted in the suburbs.
According to returning officer Ajit Sasulkar, the counting of votes will be carried out on December 23. The MMC, a quasi-judicial body of allopathic doctors, drives the ethical practices of doctors along with registering their licences. Of 49 nominations, nine members will be elected for the 18-member council. Nine others will be state-appointed officers.
In Mumbai, there were two voting booths in the city and the suburbs, which have 7,250 and 14,000 registered doctors respectively. The voting booths in Mumbai were stationed at JJ Hospital and in Government Colony, Bandra.
“This time, voter turnout has been good across the state as doctors were more aware,” said Dr Bhale Patil, a member of IMA. He added that a lot of panels of doctors have come up this time to contest the elections. Several resident doctors, however, were unable to cast their votes. According to Dr Sagar Mundada from Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors, on Sunday, a lot of doctors were not in the city where they had registered to cast their vote.
“About 4,000 resident doctors could not vote since they were not in the city of their registered address,” said Mundada. While resident doctors were given the option of changing their registered address, not everyone was able to do that.
The MMC faces the mammoth task of tackling a huge backlog of cases. In 2016, 77 cases of medical negligence have been filed by patients so far, of which none has been heard. There are in total 774 pending cases with the MMC, the oldest dating back to 1995.