The state government has raised the retirement age of teaching doctors to 65 years and other doctors to 62 in an attempt to tide over the crunch that has crippled the state-run health care in large parts of Bengal.
Now, teaching doctors at state-run hospitals retire at 62 and the other doctors at 60.
The state cabinet on Monday ratified the proposal to raise the retirement age of doctors.
The Medical Council of India allows doctors to teach till 70 but the state governments are at liberty to fix the retirement age within that.
“New medical colleges are coming up. At least 40 super-speciality hospitals are being built and the capacity of several hospitals is being increased. But there aren’t enough teachers and doctors. So the government has taken the decision to bridge the gap,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said after the meeting. “In several cases, doctors are being re-employed. We have decided to take in the new generation, too — those willing to join us.”
The chief minister pointed out that the ICUs and the CCUs at several hospitals are being upgraded. “The government has increased the number of beds at various hospitals by 10,000. The availability of doctors is less compared with the demand.”
The council has slashed the number of MBBS seats in the state from 2,200 to 1,550 because of slack infrastructure and shortage of human resources, including teachers and resident medical officers. Three new state-run medical colleges — in Kamarhati, Malda and Murshidabad — have been found to be short of beds, teachers, paramedics and OPD rooms.
“Every year 30 to 40 teaching doctors retire,” said Sushanta Banerjee, the director of medical education. “There is a 17 per cent shortage of teaching doctors in the 13 state-run medical colleges of Bengal.” The teaching doctors in the medical colleges total 3,800.
Another official pointed out that the Supreme Court had capped the duration of a resident doctor’s duty at 12 hours a day. “To abide by the order we need more doctors.”
Health secretary Moloy Dey said the requirement would further rise with the government deciding to set up five more state-run medical colleges and three more through public-private partnerships.
Health department sources said the chief minister had in 2013 written to then health secretary Satish Tewari, proposing that the retirement age of teaching doctors be raised from 62 to 65 years. The finance department started working on it much later.