Kolkata: The Medical Council of India’s recommendation to the Union Health Ministry to cancel 395 out of the 445 medical seat increase granted to Bengal in the past five years has pressed the panic button among Bengal health officials who have rushed to Delhi to meet the MCI and Health Ministry officials. The State officials who have reached Delhi to take up the matter with the apex education regulator and the Health ministry are Health Secretary, R S Shukla and Special Secretary (medical education) Tamal Kanti Ghosh. The cancellation suggestion was put forward by the statutory body looking after maintenance of the standard of medical education when it found most colleges lacking in infra structure to accommodate the increased student numbers.
In a letter to the Health Ministry, the MCI said that increased intake of medical Colleges in Bengal should not be renewed. The Council directed that 95 increased seats at Calcutta Medical College, 50 added seats at each of IPGMR, Burdwan Medical College, North Bengal Medical College and Bankura Sammilani Medical College be cancelled.
It also said that permission for the 100 seated ESI (Joka) Medical College, be cancelled.
Besides the ESI, which is a central institute, all the others are state run colleges colleges whose capacity was raised in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
In 2014 the council had also suggested cancellation of over 500 medical seats, however the Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee’s intervention had prevented that from happening.
At present, a total of 2,450 seats exist in the 17 medical colleges in the state . If 395 are decreased, the state’s strength will come down to 2,045. As 637 seats belong to candidates from the All India medical joint entrance exams, a mere 1,418 applicants to the West Bengal joint entrance examination will be eligible for medical studies effectively.
State health officials, however, felt that the situation was not as bad as what was witnessed in 2014 and therefore did not call for seat cancellation.
“The MCI said the distance between two beds is less than 1.5m, below the specification. They also said the hygiene of student, nurses and residents was poor. They have also cited shortage of equipment, such as OT table, x-ray machines and audio-visual aids,” a senior official said.
Admitting to shortage of nurses and doctors ranging between 9% and 22%, he said, “We have told the MCI, the recruitment process was on and we will fill the vacancies soon.”
President, MCI, Jayashree Ben Mehta told the TOI, “I cannot talk about all the details but if the medical colleges present their cases, we will definitely take the matter up seriously.”
Though Mehta came across skeptically on the situation, a source in medical body said, “There are two parameters, the basic infrastructure and the facilities that includes apparatus, medical equipment and faculties. The state medical colleges have more or less fulfilled the basic criterion and so, there is a strong possibility that we may not lose the seats.”