In a major move, the state government has said it will provide reservation in graduate and post-graduate medical courses to students who are willing to serve in government and civic-run hospitals from the next academic year. The decision was taken in the state cabinet meeting on Monday.
If implemented, this will enable the state to deal with the chronic shortage of doctors in government hospitals and health centres that are located in remote and tribal areas.
Sanjay Mukherjee, secretary, state medical education department said, “For Bachelor in Medicine
(MBBS) courses, the state has decided to keep 10% reservation for those students who agree to serve for a period of seven years. For Doctor of Medicine, the post-graduation MD degree, there will be 20% reservation for the students who are ready to serve for a period of five years.”
He said once enrolled in the scheme, a student will not be able to leave it as they would have to sign a legal bond. “Those who break the bond will lose their registration given by both the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC), which means they will not be able to practise in Maharashtra or any other state. A criminal case will also be registered against such a candidate for which, the punishment will be six months to three years imprisonment,” Mukherjee said.
To implement the decision, the state will come up with a law – The Maharashtra Designation of Certain Seats in Government and Municipal Corporations Medical Colleges Bill. This bill will have to be cleared by the state legislature and will also need the President’s assent, as the state wants to ensure MCI , an organisation that comes under the centre, also cancels registration of doctors, who agree to serve in government hospitals but do not change their decision later.
The idea of the bill is based on the method practised by armed forces medical college, where an individual has to serve for at least seven years after which she is allowed to either leave the services for a private job or get permanently absorbed. The 10% reservation for MBBS and 20% reservation for post-graduation reflect the upper limit of this quota which can be reduced as per vacancies in the public health department by the state every year.
In 2018-19, the total intake capacity for MMBS courses in the state was 3,031, which has been increased to 4,030 seats this year (2019-20). “The government is planning to increase this intake capacity by another 1,000 seats,” said an official from medical education department.
Currently, it is mandatory for medical students in Maharashtra to serve a one-year internship in a state-run, civic or military hospital after completing their MBBS course. The students have to pay a hefty fine of ₹10 lakh for MBBS and ₹50 lakh for post-graduate courses in case they want to skip the internship.
Kalyani Dongre, state president, Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) said that on one hand, the state is allowing the students to break the one-year bond (internship) by paying a hefty fine and on the other, it has come up with a scheme incentivising longer service in the hospitals. “In my view, the scheme will not help. Instead, the state should make the one-year bond mandatory for the medical students,” Dr Dongre said.
Abhijeet More, co-convenor, Jan Aarogya Abhiyaan, an NGO that works to improve health services in the state welcomed the decision. “This will help the state in filling up the vacant positions of the doctors in remote and tribal areas. There should be no compulsion on the students, instead their incentives should be offered to ensure public service, which the government is now going to do with this decision,” More said. – Money Control