State labels 2400 Mumbai doctors ‘quacks’ for failure to serve bond

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Over 4,500 Maharashtra doctors – including close to 2,500 graduates from Mumbai medical colleges – have been declared ‘quacks’ by the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) following their failure to serve the mandatory one year in rural areas.

The DMER has drawn up a list of 4,500 doctors who received their MBBS degrees between 2005 and 2012 but did not honour their commitment to serve in rural areas. They also did not pay the penalty for their failure to do so.

All serving doctors must renew their registration with the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) every five years. However, since these 4,500 doctors violated their rural service bonds, their registrations stand cancelled.

Medical students graduating from government-run colleges sign a bond promising to serve at a primary health center in a village for a year within five years of obtaining their MBBS degree. If they do not serve the bond, they must pay a penalty, which is a steep Rs 10 lakh for a plain vanilla MBBS doctor, Rs 50 lakh for postgraduates, and Rs 2 crore for super-specialty doctors.

According to DMER data, among the doctors declared ‘quacks’ are 780 from Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College, Parel; 761 from Grant Medical College attached to JJ Hospital; 595 from B J Medical College, Pune; 526 from Government Medical College, Nagpur; and 485 from Topiwala National Medical College attached to BYL Nair Hospital at Mumbai Central.

Doctors, however, are up in arms against DMER’s decision. They say that DMER is just forcing doctors to serve in fringe areas without developing proper health infrastructure there. “The condition of some of the primary health centres and rural hospitals in the state is so bad that they don’t even have adequate stock of basic medicines,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, chairman, youth wing, Indian Medical Association (IMA).

DMER head Dr Pravin Shingare, however, said the decision has been taken after giving these doctors enough time to serve the bond. “We will share details of these doctors with district-level committees, which are authorised to take action against bogus doctors. The committee has members like the civil surgeon and superintendent of police who will now take action against them,” he said.

He added that these doctors may have multiple degrees but without the renewal of their registration with MMC they are as good as quacks. Dr Ajay Chandanwale, Dean, BJ Medical College, Pune, said: “Notices have been issued to students. They must either serve the bond or pay the penalty for not serving it. The government will not allow renewal of their registrations if they don’t do so.”

Dr Sanjay Deshmukh, Deputy Director, Health Services, said the doctors must understand that the one-year rural stint for all new graduates is aimed at meeting a desperate demand for doctors in villages. “There is a huge shortage of doctors in the rural parts of the state. Most of the students after passing the final exam, choose municipal corporations in cities to work in public health departments rather than serving people in rural areas,” he said.