The state health department on Friday formed a 15-member committee to explore the possibility of introducing a three-year medical diploma course, a day after chief minister Mamata Banerjee told the health secretary to do so.
The committee will have to submit its report within 30 days, a statement issued by the health department said. After the report is submitted, “further decision in this regard will be taken after discussion with different stakeholders”, the statement said.
Among the members of the committee are Suhrita Paul, vice-chancellor of the West Bengal University of Health Sciences; Monimoy Banerjee, director of the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (SSKM Hospital); Indranil Biswas, principal of the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital; and Avijit Chowdhury, a public health expert and a professor in the department of hepatology at SSKM Hospital.
Among the other members are the director of medical education in the state, director of health services in the state and representatives of the Indian Medical Association and the West Bengal Medical Council.
“In order to improve the access of health care, especially in the rural areas, State Government has decided to explore the possibility of developing health care professionals with three years of classroom and practical training. To examine this matter in greater detail, State Government has formed an expert committee,” the statement said.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee asked health secretary Narayan Swaroop Nigam at a review meeting at Nabanna on Thursday to explore the possibility of a medical diploma course.
“You should check whether we can start a medical diploma course like engineering. Many students can be trained in the diploma course. Doctors need to undergo a five-year course and it is time-consuming. But seats, hospitals, population and beds are increasing. So, a diploma course can help. If primary health centres can be managed with them, it will be good,” the chief minister told Nigam.
A member of the committee said the candidates who will attend the diploma course can conduct triage and examine patients first. “They can decide which patient should require a doctor’s care immediately and who can wait for a few days,” he said.
During the 1980s, the Left Front government had introduced a three-year medical course. “The three-year system produced one or two batches of doctors. They later did another two-year course with the hope of being recognised as MBBS doctors, but the Medical Commission of India (now the National Medical Commission) never recognised them,” said an official.