Dead in 1962, but practising medicine in 2003. Unbelievable, but true. The city has several hundred practising doctors who are using the registration numbers of medical practitioners long dead or retired years ago.
Helpless, the state medical council had urged all doctors to re-register themselves with itself, but with less than half of them agreeing to comply with the norms, the council is now seeking legal opinion on penalising doctors and also barring them from the this year’s all-important council elections, being held after five years.
Only 23,000 doctors have responded to the council plea so far and another 25,000-odd doctors in the city and districts are yet to furnish their details, putting paid to the council’s efforts to instil accountability and transparency in the fraternity.
Flooded with complaints that a large number of doctors, several of them fakes, are actually using the registration numbers of doctors who have died years ago, the council decided last year to update its database of practising doctors and, in the process, flush out the frauds.
The decision to ask doctors to re-register themselves every five years was also taken after the council found that almost all doctors add on special degrees and also change their addresses, but do not bother to inform it.
Council members stress that practising doctors need to refresh their registration numbers. “A doctor practising with a registration number different from ours is something we cannot accept. We want to ensure that we hold proper records of all doctors,” a council spokesman said.
A section of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) described the council’s efforts as a “big farce”. IMA’s joint secretary (headquarters) R.D. Dubey said the council should “not have any problems” in flushing out frauds. “We have lodged vehement protests against the council’s attempts to persuade doctors to re-register themselves. If the council move succeeds, doctors will end up registering themselves several times throughout their career,” Dubey added. “The council, though, hasn’t informed us yet about holding the elections with only the re-registered doctors.”
Subir Ganguly, past president and senior functionary of the IMA Bengal branch, however, said that apart from re-registration, the council should also ensure that doctors go through a mandatory continuous medical education period. “We believe that re-registration is necessary to plug the loopholes in the system,” Ganguly added. IMA state secretary Moloy Patra said members would be asked to comply with the medical council norms.