The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doubts over doctors in class
- Quality drop feared in draw-medicos-to-teach-medicine drive

In a bid to attract more doctors into medical education, the government has initiated a drive to recruit teachers up to the rank of assistant professors on an ad hoc basis for a year. The age limit for applicants has also been relaxed from 45 to 50 years. The last date for submitting applications is December 10. Several hundreds of applications have poured in at Writers’ Buildings’ from doctors, mostly posted at block-level healthcare centres for decades. Health department sources said such doctors with no teaching experience have applied “in order to move out of the healthcare centres with poor facilities”.

A delegation of doctors is planning to meet senior health department officials, including health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, to explain how the drive may end up recruiting doctors without any teaching background, thus, affecting the standard of medical education in the state.

Kajal Krishna Banik, a senior Indian Medical Association (IMA) member, says the government has not addressed key issues in the recruitment drive, such as the prospects of the recruits a year later, the number of candidates to be taken and the promotion of senior professors. “We are not sure if the newcomers will be regularised at all. Moreover, this sudden recruitment drive may see many undesired persons joining the profession. Besides, the government has done precious little to fill up senior posts, which have been vacant for several years,” Banik added. Senior positions in several fields, including community medicine, psychiatry and pharmacology, have yet to filled.

However, director of medical education C.R. Maity assured that candidates will be selected only on the basis of merit and, if needed, through the Public Service Commission. “The government is working on a plan to upgrade the positions of senior professors, who could not be promoted for want of vacancies over the years.”

“It is true there are several vacant senior posts, but I am sure the government has thought about these, too,” said Joyshree Mitra, principal of Medical College and Hospital.

The recruitment drive has been initiated to keep pace with the increase of seats in medical colleges across the state — from 850 to 1,100 starting the next academic year. Around 150 seats will be increased at SSKM Hospital and Midnapore Medical College, respectively. With more medical colleges in the pipeline, the dearth of quality instructors will be felt even more, sources said.

Association of Health Services Doctors general secretary Prodyut Sur said: “We hope the government will not let the standard of candidates to be compromised with.”

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