A section of errant teaching doctors frequently travel to foreign countries and in India, allegedly with funds provided by pharma companies, to attend seminars and conduct examinations of postgraduate medical courses, including MD, MS, DM, Mch etc.
This trend among senior teachers, mainly in gynaecology, cardiology, pathology, endocrinology, cardiothoracic surgery, pardiatric surgery, gastroenterology, nephrology and urology departments, is hampering MD and MS courses in 13 state-run medical colleges at a time when these institutes are running short of teaching doctors.
“We are aware of the issue. All principals and directors of medical colleges and research institutes have been asked to note how many teachers are going abroad and travelling to different cities in the country and how many time a year.
We will take action if any one is found travelling to foreign countries, violating health department rules,” said professor Susanta Banerjee, director of medical education, on Monday.
“We recently refused permission to a senior teacher of SSKM Hospital when he contacted us seeking approval to visit a country in Europe. We are planning a way to impose restrictions by giving a stipulated number of special leave for tours aboard, in addition to their other routine leaves,” Banerjee said.
A senior official of the state medical education wing said, “The issue will be raised at the next meeting of principals with the health secretary and director of medical education at Swasthya Bhaban. A section of teaching doctors regularly attend different seminars abroad and externals in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.”
This practice is rampant among doctors associated with SSKM, NRG, RG Kar and Medical College Hospital. For instance, a senior teacher of the pathology department at Medical College Hospital frequently travels to different cities as an external.
There are many others in the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research as well SSKM who hardly come to the institute.
Besides hotel expenses and air fare, a doctor gets Rs. 5,000 as daily allowance when he or she travel outside Kolkata as an inspector of the Medical Council of India (MCI). The daily allowance is attractive for a pathology, bio-chemistry or microbiology expert when he or she tours different parts of the country as an examiner of the National Accreditation Board of Laboratory (NABL), body to check quality and standard of healthcare service in government or private hospitals across the country.
“We want the government to frame stringent rules to regulate doctors’ travel programmes at home and abroad. We have nothing to do if we do not have any power. The issue will be discussed in the in the next meeting of principals,” said professor Pradip Kumar Mitra, director cum principal of the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research as well SSKM medical college.