The state health department and the Medical Council of India (MCI) have locked horns over a state governments bid to convince the MCI and bring down the qualifying marks of the entrance test of post-graduate courses for doctors who have worked in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas. According to the guidelines of the MCI,a service doctor needs to score 400 out of 800 to crack the entrance test for a post-graduate course.
However,officials of the state health department have requested the MCI officials to give grace marks to those working in trouble-torn areas depending on the number of years they have been working in that particular area. The step was initiated after the health department failed to convince doctors to work in the Maoist-hit areas over the past few years.
A letter in this regard was sent to the MCI where the state health department argued that service doctors who are working for a year in the Maoist-hit areas should get a grace mark of five while those working for a period of more than three years should get a grace mark of 15.
Even the officials of the state health department had requested the MCI to bring down the qualifying marks to 30 per cent as it was seen that out of 152 doctors who had appeared for the entrance examination this year only 79 could qualify for the test. Senior officials of the health department are of the opinion that if the qualifying marks are not lowered it is difficult to get specialists at the district hospitals especially in the Left Wing Extremism affected areas. Currently,there are around 1,000 posts of specialists,which are lying vacant in various district hospitals,including those in disturbed areas.
A doctor who is going to appear for the post graduate entrance examination and is now posted at Jhargram district hospital on condition of anonymity said it is difficult to concentrate on studies due to the surge in the inflow of patients. There is a post for two specialists,but one post is lying vacant and so he has to look after majority of critical cases. At times,they had to work in night shifts as well. Senior health officials said they had written letters to the MCI several times about this proposal,but MCI has rejected it. Officials had intimated the state government that if the qualifying mark of the entrance test is brought down for a particular section working in the Maoist-hit areas,it would create disparity.
Dr Sajal Das,the secretary of the DSO-backed Service Doctors Forum said service doctors working in Maoist hit and other inaccessible areas should be provided grace marks so that specialists could be retained at the district hospitals. The infrastructure of the district hospitals needs to be revamped so that doctors could work in a congenial atmosphere. Dr Susanta Banerjee,the director of medical education,said they are in talks with the officials of the health ministry as well as MCI to resolve the deadlock.