The Royal College of Surgeons of England is exploring possibilities of tie-ups with private hospitals in India that can serve as training and examination centres for the FRCS (Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons) course.

Tasked with developing an overseas agenda, an 88-member team of the Royal College's Council recently visited the Health City in Bangalore and Ganga Hospital in Coimbatore to assess the surgical and teaching expertise and the other required facilities for training. The conduct of the FRCS course and examinations in nine surgical specialities is the focus of the Council.

“We have just made a beginning and are very impressed with what we saw in Bangalore and Coimbatore,” member of the Council David H.A. Jones told The Hindu here. Dr. Jones and fellow member John Getty were part of the team that visited Ganga Hospital to study the expertise and logistics that were required for the conduct of the course.

“What we see in these places is world class surgery at decreasing cost in the private health care sector,” they said. Various issues related to translating the new concept into reality would be discussed in due course.

The college was also looking at the possibilities of exchange programmes in the area of fellowship.

“FRCS examinations in India figure high on our agenda. The standards here are very high,” said Dr. Getty. “We are keen on having a system wherein English doctors can train in India. After all, medicine is a global subject,” he said.

“We were trained in surgery by Indian doctors also in the U.K.,” they said.

Former president of the World Orthopaedic Concern and Chairman of Orthopaedics and Spine Surgery at Ganga Hospital S. Rajasekaran pointed out that private hospitals performed 94 per cent of the surgeries in India. Despite the availability of expertise for training and the crucial cutting edge technology, the Medical Council of India had not granted clearance for teaching in these hospitals.

Elaborating on the advantages in the private health sector in India, Dr. Getty said it had developed so much partly because there was no regulation on how healthcare was delivered.

Ideal training ground

The space to maintain independence and the commitment to deliver healthcare to all made the private sector here an ideal training ground.

Dr. Rajasekaran said the move by the Royal College of Surgeons would open up a huge possibility of training under advanced conditions and that too without having to incur the expenses of travelling to the U.K. for the FRCS course.

Explaining what the college's move meant for India, Dr. Rajasekaran, currently president of the Association of Spine Surgeons of India, said: “We are suffocated at the top. The seats for MBBS have been increased, but not for the postgraduate courses. Many States in India produce cardio-thoracic surgeons in low single digits every year.”

“The college's move will help India meet the huge need for more specialists in surgery,” he said.

“But, we need to look beyond learning surgery or writing the examinations. Administration, better doctor-patient relations, meeting the expectation of the patients and organising a good healthcare delivery system will have to be part of the learning process,” he said.