Maharashtra government has found a unique way to net doctors, who have completed their degrees from state medical colleges but have not completed the required one-year bond service.
The Maharashtra Medical Council (MCC), in a circular dated June 30, has asked the doctors, who have completed their graduation / post-graduation / super speciality / degree / diploma from government-run or Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)-run medical colleges, to submit their one-year bond certificate for the for renewal of registrations. The MMC is a quasi-judicial body, which governs the quality of medical education and medical ethics in state. An autonomous body, it reserves rights to provide registration and cancellation of medical licences.
The move is seen as an attempt by the government to meet the shortage of doctors in rural areas of the state. Speaking to My Medical Mantra, Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) Dr Pravin Shingare said, “In Maharashtra, we have enough doctors but majority of them are not ready to practise in rural areas, leading to shortage medical practitioners in those areas. We have been facing difficulty finding those under graduate and post graduate medical students, who have studied in state-run and BMC-run medical colleges, but have not served the bond or have defaulted on paying fees. With this move, we hope to catch hold of them.”
According to the rules of Medical Council of India (MCI), it is mandatory for doctors across the country to renew their registrations every five years to continue practising anywhere in India. At present, a doctor must earn 30 credit hours by attending ‘recognised’ conferences or publishing books to renew his / her registration. The doctor, who fails to do so, will lose his / her registration and he / she is not authorised to sign any official medical papers.
Also, his / her name is removed from the database of the Indian Medical Register following which he / she loses the right to practice.
The latest MCC circular has led to a furore among doctors, who say they plan to challenge the order in the court of law. “It looks like a stunt by the government. We are seeking Medical Council of India’s opinion and legal opinion, and will challenge this in the court of law. As per our knowledge, MMC cannot take such a decision,” said Dr Jayesh Lele, Indian Medical Association’s National Secretary for hospital board of India.
Some have criticised the sudden changes in the renewal criteria. “Creation of enough posts with adequate infrastructure should be the priority rather than forcing things upon the medics. Also, there are many senior doctors practising for more than 25 years. Are they supposed to leave their practice and complete the bond service now because the government did not have a job for them while they were studying?” questioned Dr Sagar Mundada, youth wing chairman, IMA-Maharashtra.
Doctors said the government cannot blame the doctors by compelling the MMC to issue such a circular. “They are expecting a doctor who has got his / her degrees a decade or two ago to submit the bond certificate now. This is absurd. It is the government’s duty to keep the records and inform the MMC if any doctor has defaulted, not the other way round,” said Dr Shihvkumar Utture, member IMA. He said the circular has created a lot of hassle for the doctors.
“It is a badly-worded circular, which has no clarity. It has created lot of hassle for us. The MMC cannot stop renewal of registration based on a circular. We have to see how far it stands the test of legality,” he added.