The Medical Council of India's (MCI) inspection at three government medical colleges in Kottayam, Thrissur and Alappuzha was disrupted yesterday after teaching staff stayed away, responding to a boycott call given by the Kerala Government Medical College Teachers' Association.
The association had called for the boycott to protest against what it termed a 'farce' enacted every year on the eve of MCI inspection when scores of medical college teachers are shifted out by the government to make up for the staff shortage in colleges where inspections are conducted. The doctors are then posted back to their original institution once the inspections are completed.
On Monday, none of the doctors at the three colleges presented themselves for the inspection at the MCI exam hall following which he MCI decided to suspend the 'headcount' of the staff. Inspection of infrastructure facilities would continue at the three institutions.
The association claimed it had informed the government in advance that the doctors would boycott the inspections and had asked the government to postpone the inspections scheduled for 27 and 28 April. The government paying no heed, issued orders for temporarily shifting over 70 medical college teachers from Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode to the Kottayam, Thrissur and Alappuzha medical colleges. The list included Kerala Government Medical College Teachers Association (KGMCTA) state president Dr A Sarathkumar, a move the association alleged was due to personal vendetta.
Three years ago, when the government issued orders increasing 50 MBBS seats each at Kottayam, Thrissur and Alappuzha, the MCI had asked for the creation of 200 additional posts of teachers in the institutions to which the government paid no heed.
In a statement, PK Sreemathy, health minister accused the association of gambling with the future of hundreds of medical students as the disruption of the MCI inspection could lead to the council refusing recognition for the MBBS courses at Kottayam, Thrissur and Alappuzha. The minister said that one of the main demands of the association – revision of All India Council for Technical Education pay scales – was the centre's responsibility.
Association state president blamed the state government for lack of initiative regarding the creation of new posts and improvement of infrastructure in the medical colleges for the day's events
The boycott by the doctors has come as a major embarrassment to the government as it could even result in the cancellation of the registration of these colleges or reduction in the number of MBBS seats. Sreemathy said if the boycott were to lead to the cancellation of the registration of these colleges, the KGMCTA would be solely responsible. The minister expressed her willingness to have the issues discussed with association representatives.
Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association has urged the state government to improve facilities and staff strength of government medical colleges in the state. It said the government's deployment of doctors from other medical colleges for MCI inspection would not help the cause of medical students according in a release by IMA state president Dr R Ramesh and secretary Dr J Rajagopalan Nair. Such temporary and short-term measures would only result in decline in medical education standards of the state's medical colleges, they added.