New Delhi: The railway network of the country, Indian Railways has decided to foray full blast into the field of medical education by converting its hospitals into medical colleges. The body has also decided to focus on specialist education by also offering post graduate medical courses at its institutes.
Making a start for this purpose, the Railways has sought the permission of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Union Health Ministry to develop 10 of its 125 hospitals across zones into medical colleges.
“These hospitals will offer postgraduate medical courses for medical students. For this, the railways will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with local universities and colleges,” an official confirmed to the news agency PTI.
“We already teach over 250 students for Diplomate National Board Course in seven Central hospitals. These hospitals are part of the ten selected hospitals. We now plan to add PG facilities like a General MD (Doctor of Medicine),” a senior Railway official confirmed The Hindu.
However, the process is in a very nascent stage right now, the official informed, adding that the national transporter has already identified 10 hospitals with 300 or more beds across India, where their courses will be taught.
“We are in discussions with the MCI as well as the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare… after getting approvals, we will figure out details on investments and the number of students, and form a roadmap as per their guidelines and processes,” the official said.
According to sources close to the development, zonal central hospitals under the Northern Railways, Eastern Railways, South Eastern Railways, North East Frontier Railways, Southern Railways, South Central Railways, Western Railways, Central Railways, North Eastern Railways, and the divisional hospital at Kharagpur will be converted into medical colleges.
The plan to covert hospitals into medical colleges was mooted by then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.
However, earlier this month, Indu Bhushan, Chief Executive Officer of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), had stated that railway hospitals would now treat Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries too.
The announcement had come after Railways Minister Piyush Goyal directed the officials to tie up with railway hospitals. A MoU is expected to be signed soon, and a proposal is set to be taken up by the Railway Board in 15 days.
Annually, the railways spend around Rs 31 billion to maintain its hospitals and Rs18.6 billion to pay salaries. Around 20 million people report to the outpatient department at these hospitals and over 500,000 people get admitted.
The railways run around 125 hospitals and 586 dispensaries across the country to provide free treatment to 6.7 million people, including its 1.3 employees, their families, and pensioners. These hospitals have around 14,000 beds. These hospitals have 40,000 staff, including 2,500 doctors.