NEET-PG: Plea in SC against incentive marks


Protest against incentive marks in JLN Medical College Ajmer ,Rajasthan (Pic: Piyush Baisla)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear the plea of postgraduate medical courses’ aspirants from Rajasthan who have challenged the State’s preference for graduates who have worked in rural and difficult areas during their MBBS course.

The State allows 10% incentive marks to in-service MBBS doctors who have served in remote areas in National Eligibility-cum Entrance Test (NEET) 2017 for admission to PG courses.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar heard preliminary submissions made by advocate Jasmeet Singh against the State government’s award of incentives to students who have worked in rural and difficult terrains during their MBBS years and listed the matter for detailed hearing on Thursday.

Their petition contended that such incentive was firstly not notified by the Rajasthan government prior to commencement of the selection procedure. It argued that the process of selection for the NEET 2017 began in September 2016 whereas the State government notification came on March 20 this year.

Secondly, the State had not notified any such rural or difficult areas.

Thirdly, it is not mandatory (and is only discretionary) as per the Medical Council of India Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations to grant such incentives.

Penalty for PG dropout

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The Bihar cabinet today approved a new set of rules for postgraduate (PG) medical students, including a Rs 25 lakh penalty for those who do not serve the government for at least three years after PG courses in government medical colleges.

The new rules will also require PG students in government medical colleges who drop out midway during their courses to pay the government Rs 15 lakh and return their monthly stipends of Rs 35,000 given to them during the course.

Those who complete PG courses and refuse to work for the government, in rural and urban areas, will be liable to pay Rs 25 lakh, and those who drop out before the three-year term ends will also need to pay back the salaries they had received while in service. The move is intended to increase the number of PG qualified doctors available in the state, especially in the rural areas.

Students entering PG courses in government colleges will need to sign bonds specifying these conditions.

Bihar is not the first state to take such a step. In 2015, President Pranab Mukherjee had approved the Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Medical Courses Bill, 2012. This legislation makes one year of rural service compulsory for doctors in the southern state. Under the Karnakata law, PG doctors who don’t serve in rural areas for at least a year after completing their postgraduation are liable to pay a penalty of Rs 25 lakh.

Government medical colleges in Bihar offer 474 PG seats. Health department officials point out that nearly half of the seats become vacant midway because some students join colleges outside the state while others pursuing non-clinical courses get admission into clinical courses.

Health department officials point out that due to students deserting the courses midway, it has been difficult to get specialist doctors to work in government hospitals. Sources said there was a 50 per cent shortage of PG-qualified doctors in government health facilities in Bihar.

The government’s decision has evoked mixed reactions among medicos. Pratik Nishant, a PG student in Patna Medical College and Hospital, said it was a grave injustice to students like him. “While taking admission in the PG course, we were not apprised about this condition. We will go to court,” he vowed, stressing that the student should be left to decide what was professionally good for him.

However, another medico, Rajiv Ranjan of IGIMS, who is seeking admission into a PG course, said the decision was justified keeping in view the large number of vacancies in non-clinical courses.

Government sources said there’s a huge shortfall of specialist doctors in state-run facilities across Bihar primarily because trained doctors with PG degrees are hard to find. Most of them take up jobs outside the state or opt for private hospitals where the pay and perks are more.

During the recently concluded Assembly session, health minister Tej Pratap Yadav had in response to a question conceded that his department was short of around 3,000 doctors. He also pointed out that the Bihar Public Service Commission had recommended the names of around 2,400 doctors for government jobs but around half of them did not join. MLAs cutting across party lines have regularly complained about lack of doctors in government hospitals in their constituencies, especially lady doctors.

Health ministry nod for more MD seats

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The Union health ministry has approved the addition of 184 postgraduate seats across nine government medical colleges in Bengal as part of a nationwide exercise to add more than 4,000 medical PG seats this year.

A health ministry order released yesterday lists over 1,900 additional MD and MS seats at over 100 government medical colleges across the country from the academic year 2017-18.

The remaining 2,100 additional PG seats will be in diploma courses.

Burdwan Medical College will be able to offer 45 additional seats, the highest among the colleges in Bengal.

The expansion will also mean 64 additional MD and MS seats in five medical colleges in Bihar, 99 in four colleges in Assam, and nine at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences, Ranchi.

India’s 470-odd medical colleges currently offer about 64,000 undergraduate (MBBS) seats but only about 32,000 PG seats, of which some 18,000 are in the clinical subjects. The gulf between the numbers of MBBS and PG seats has meant intense competition at the PG entrance exams.

Health officials say the expansion of PG seats was made possible by changing the sanctioned professor-to-PG student ratio in medical colleges from 1:2 to 1:3. The move is expected to substantially increase the number of specialists available for health-care services in the public and private sectors.

The additional PG seats may also help build faculty at the district hospitals that are set to be upgraded into medical colleges from the academic year 2019-20.

In Bengal, the district hospitals in Birbhum, Cooch Behar, Purulia, North Dinajpur and South 24-Parganas have been selected for upgrades to medical colleges.

Anaesthesiology is among the clinical subjects allowed the highest number of additional PG seats. The Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi alone is set to increase its intake for the MD anaesthesiology course by 54 seats, from 11 to 65.

“Anaesthesiologists are needed in every surgery. They also manage patients in intensive care and patients in pain, and assist in palliative care. And there’s an acute shortage of specialists,” said a senior faculty member at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, which has added 13 MD anaesthesiology seats.

A senior health official said it was easier to add seats for courses such as MD anaesthesiology and MD radio-diagnosis because, unlike most other specialities, they were not tagged to patient or bed requirements.

The faculty member at the Indira Gandhi Institute, who requested not to be named, said the increase in PG seats would also over time help ease the shortage of specialists at public hospitals in the districts.

“While many will work in the cities, we expect that some will also serve in small towns,” the faculty member said.

Entry to PG courses in both government and private medical colleges is determined by a centralised common test that the health ministry says has made the admission process “transparent”.

Government to increase 5,000 more PG seats in medical institutes

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With an aim to increase the availability of specialist doctors at secondary and tertiary levels, the government will introduce as many as 5,000 post-graduate (PG) seats. During this year’s budget, the Centre had announced the creation of additional medical seats every year. Health Minister J P Nadda today informed the Lok Sabha, “The government has taken a number of steps to improve the health sector in the country including the creation of 5,000 additional PG seats in medical institutions.”

Nadda recently said, there had been a total addition of 4,193 PG seats in the country so far. In March this year, there will be a further addition of more than 1000 seats.

Further, the Health Minister elaborated there has been 27.7 per cent more allocation to the health sector in the 2017-18 budget. “We are also planning to allocate 2.5 per cent of the GDP to the health sector in phase-wise,” he said during Question Hour.

However, many state governments have returned the funds earmarked for the health sector as they have not been able to spend them, he said.

The Minister said the Centre has been offering help to the states to improve infrastructure and institutions in the health sector besides providing financial support, but the states have to spend the funds properly and submit the utilisation certificates.

Common Counselling At State Level Compulsory Now For UG And PG Courses

NEET 2017: For Medical Admission, Common Counselling At State Level Compulsory Now For UG And PG Courses

In a landmark decision, following the introduction of single medical entrance exam (NEET) in the country, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has now made provision for common counselling at the State level for admission to medical courses at the under graduate (UG) and post graduate (PG) levels. As per the amendments made in the relevant regulations of MCI, the designated authority at the State/UT level shall conduct common counselling for all medical education institutions in the State whether established by the Central Government, State Government, University, Deemed University, Trust, Society, Company, Minority Institutions or Corporation.

According to the ministry, the move would bring in transparency in the admission process and curb the practice of capitation fee charged by private colleges. Further, a statement from the ministry also said that the students would not have to apply to multiple agencies for admission in the same State.

After NEET UG 2016 was conducted by CBSE, the Ministry had issued an advisory on 9 August 2016 in consultation with States and other stakeholders to the States to preferably conduct combined counselling for admission to MBBS courses for session 2016-17. At the instance of the Ministry, UGC had also directed all Deemed Universities that they shall also be part of common counselling for admission in common courses organized either by State Government / Central Government or through its agencies based on the marks obtained in NEET.

The advisory for common counselling at the State level was repeated December 2016 for admission to PG courses for the session 2017-18. The advisories were issued since counselling was not covered under any regulations and the entire admission process had evolved as an administrative mechanism. But now with the amendment notifications in Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 1997 and the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulation, 2000, enabling legal provisions have been made for common counseling, said the ministry statement.

The counselling for All India Quota seats at under graduate and post graduate level will continue to be conducted by the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the statement clarified.

Disclosure of FMGE answer keys will affect doctors’ quality

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Answer keys to the qualifying test for allowing foreign medical graduates to practice in India cannot be disclosed as it would “dilute the standards” of healthcare, the CIC has held.

Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Azad gave this order on the plea of an RTI applicant R Seshadri who had sought from the Medical Council of India (MCI) the question papers along with the solutions, together commonly referred to as answer keys, for the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE).

4000 medical PG seats added to streamline medical education: PM Narendra Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the government has streamlined the medical education field and created 4,000 new post-graduate seats in medical colleges which would resolve the problem of lack of doctors.

“In our country, in the field of health there has always been a complaint that we do not have enough doctors. This is because we do not have a robust system to produce doctors,” Modi told a gathering which included medical students at the Surat airport after his arrival.

“If we go to the base of the problem, less number of students can get admission into post-graduate (courses in medical field) due to lack of seats, so only few become professors,” he said.

“As there are less (number of) professors, it has become difficult to open new medical colleges. The entire system is entangled in these circles,” Modi said.

“But we have streamlined it. We have increased 4,000 post graduate seats in one year. This is a big step in the country,” he said.

“Every year 4,000 new post-graduate students (apart from the number of seats already existing) will pass out now who can also become professors. This means they can impart medical education to thousands of students across the country which will solve the issue of shortage of doctors,” he said.

“With this we are confident that medical services will be available at village level as well,” he said.

The Prime Minister also praised the work being done to make cities and villages free from open defecation.

“A big work is being done in the urban development field in the entire country. I would like to congratulate the Gujarat government for making the cities open defecation free,” he said.

“Now, in the entire country 500 cities have been declared open defecation free. These cities created infrastructure to make it possible,” he said, adding that in the villages also the programme is going on in full swing.

Modi is on a two-day visit to the state during which he will attend a number of events and meetings.

He will inaugurate a national convention of women sarpanch in Gandhinagar, address an industry meet of OPAL project of ONGC in Dahej and inaugurate a four-lane bridge over Narmada river in Bharuch.

The PM will also visit the Somnath temple and attend a meeting of the temple trust.

Govt adds over 4,000 PG seats in medical colleges

Medical seats

Centre has approved the addition of more than 4,000 seats in post-graduate courses in medical colleges this year to meet the rising demand for higher education in the healthcare sector.

The 4,193 seats approved on Thursday by the health ministry will come up in 71 government medical colleges across the country, taking the total number of post graduate seats available in the country to 35,117.

“It is an all-time record number of PG medical seats that have been approved by the government in various medical colleges and hospitals for the academic session 2017-18,” claimed a health ministry statement.

“This will further boost our resolve to strengthen tertiary care and improve medical education in the country,” health minister JP Nadda said.

The additions include in DNB seats, which are equivalent to MD/MS, which have been increased by 2,147 in the last one year.

At least 1,000 more seats are likely to be added this month, Nadda said, in reference to finance minister Arun Jaitley’s budget announcement to add 5,000 seats in PG medical courses.

“We are likely to achieve the target soon,” said Nadda, adding that several colleges have sent proposals to add more seats, and these are being studied.

Government approves record 4000 PG medical seats for 2017-18 session

The government has approved a record number of over 4,000 PG medical seats in various medical colleges and hospitals for the academic session 2017-18. Of the total, 2,046 seats will be added to medical colleges.

With this, the total number of available PG medical seats has increased to 35,117.

Looking at the need to increase PG seats in clinical subjects, the government had decided to amend the teacher-student ratio for these subjects in government medical colleges.

This change alone has resulted in the creation of 1,137 extra seats in 71 colleges.

Many other government colleges, out of the total of 212, are still in the process of sending their proposals and it is expected that at least 1000 more seats will be added during the month of March 2017.

Diplomate National Board (DNB) seats, which are equivalent to MD/MS, have increased by 2,147 in the last one year.

Thus, there has been a total addition of 4,193 PG seats in the country so far, and a further addition of more than 1000 seats is likely during March 2017.

Once that happens, the Budget announcement of adding 5,000 PG medical seats in the country is likely to be achieved soon.

2 year post-PG bond in Odisha

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Students pursuing post-graduate courses in the three government-run medical colleges will have to serve the state for a minimum of two years failing which they could be penalised.

While making the provision mandatory, the government has asked the Directorate of Medical Education and Training (DMET) to ensure execution of the bond that students will have to sign to this effect while taking admission in the state-run medical colleges.

The decision, taken last week by the state’s health department stressed that “all candidates taking admission in government medical colleges, either under state quota or all India quota in post-graduation in medicine (MD), post-graduation in medical master of surgery (MS), master of dental surgery, or doctor medicine (DM) courses” would have to execute the bond. The decision will not be applicable to under-graduate courses such as MBBS, BDS and paramedical courses.

The government will allow the bond to lapse if it cannot provide employment to the candidate within six months of the candidate completing the PG course.

The announcement also said that in the event of a student getting an opportunity to pursue higher studies immediately after completion of the PG course, he or she would be allowed to join the course.

But, after completion of higher studies, they would have to serve the state government for the stipulated two years. Such students would be required to make affidavits before first class judicial magistrates.

Defending the decision, state health secretary Pramod Kumar Meherda said: “The state has an acute shortage of doctors. The government spends a lot in providing medical education in the state. But, most of the students are reluctant to serve the state. The purpose of the bond is to retain graduating doctors and utilise their services.”

About 1,300 of 4,700 posts of doctors are vacant in the state at present.

In November 2015, the state government had dismissed 408 doctors for abandoning duty.

At the specialists’ level (doctors with PG degree holders), the state faces an acute shortage. There are nearly 450 post-graduate seats in the three colleges – SCB Medical College, Cuttack, MKCG Medical College, Berhampur, and VSS Medical College, Burla.

An official said that if a student fails to adhere to the bond and does not serve the state for two years, the government would impose monetary penalties.

“The penalty will be double the amount of stipend/salary received during the study period (post-graduation). We will also not release their pass certificate, college leaving certificate or any other certificate in the custody of the authority.”

The official said candidates leaving the pos-graduation course before completion would be liable to face monetary penalty of Rs 10 lakh, the amount of stipend and the salary received by him or her till that period.

An official said the bonds would be made on non-judicial stamp paper of Rs 21. The bonds would have to be signed by the candidate, two sureties (parents or guardians), the dean and the principal of the institutions concerned. The bonds would be collected centrally at the time of provisional admission by the selection committee, and to be handed over to the respective institutions after final admission.