New Delhi: Government is in the process of liberalising norms and doing away with archaic rules for establishment of new medical colleges across the country to meet the ever growing demand of doctors.
According to sources, the Ministry of Health has asked the Medical Council of India (MCI), apex medical education regulator, to rationalise and redefine its norms for setting up medical colleges and do away with rules that add little value to education but lead to higher cost of education for students.
"The norms governing medical college establishment need to be reworked. We have asked the MCI to redefine and rationalise them to enable new medical colleges to come up. We plan to add atleast 6,000 new MBBS seats in the next year. New norms need to reflect today’s needs," a top Health Ministry official told.
Among norms under scanner are the requirement of vast spreads of land for colleges and compulsory auditoria, playgrounds, classrooms, libraries and labs of vast dimensions.
Also proposed is easing of norms for hiring of faculty by allowing adjunct faculty so as to reduce the high cost of medical education.
It is proposed to allow colleges to come up as multi-storey buildings comprising compact facilities of labs and libraries under new dimensions which the MCI will specify in place of old impractical ones.
The government is keen to add at least 6,000 to 7,000 new MBBS seats in the coming year to help reduce the doctor-patient ratio which is a poor 1:2,000 currently.
"We are planning to ease norms for land requirement by allowing managements to set up medical colleges in multi-storeyed buildings instead of as huge unwieldy complexes spread over acres as is the current norm.
"Keeping in view the shortage of land, multi storeyed buildings can especially be allowed around cities where health facilities are much required and land availability minimal," MCI officials said. There is also a plan to ease conditions on auditoria and playgrounds.
"College auditoria are used twice or thrice a year for cultural functions and convocation. We are proposing to allow managements to sign MoUs with private parties outside to enable them to hire auditoria on need.
"They can list such partners to us and we can relax the norms on auditoria," Council officials said. They added that playgrounds and huge libraries were not critical requirements for medical colleges and need not be retained as mandatory requirements to set up new colleges.
Ministry official said, "We have asked the MCI to concentrate on improving the quality of medical education rather than concentrating on such things like creation of facilities."
The revisit of norms is rooted in the escalating cost of medical education due to archaic norms which are compulsory but difficult to comply with.
The MCI has already set up a sub-committee to evolve fresh norms and the matter has also been listed for discussions in the upcoming November 2 meeting of State Health Ministers and Secretaries.
Ministry officials added, "We have also asked the MCI them to speed up inspections fresh cases by December and come up with fresh norms also by that time."
The MCI has already received 120 applications for setting up fresh medical colleges and 65 for expansion of existing medical colleges.
Earlier, the MCI had allowed government medical colleges to set up twin or split campuses across the country. However, private medical colleges have only been allowed to have twin campuses within a radius of 20 kms in five states including Bihar, Chhattisgarh and MP with poor health parameters.
The MCI has also reduced land requirement for setting up new medical colleges from the current 25 acres to 10 acres in case of government and private medical colleges in the said five states with low health parameters and the four metros, besides five ‘A’ Class cities.
The Government has also added three new cities of Jaipur, Pune and Lucknow among these ‘A’ Class cities recently. The sources also said the MCI is working towards allowing the government to set up new medical colleges inside district hospital complexes so that fresh heavy investments on land can be saved.
Easing of norms for private medical colleges in this respect is also being worked out.