Date for the first meeting of secretary-level panel yet to be decided

The secretary-level panel formed by the government to oversee the takeover of the Cochin Medical College at Kalamassery is expected to meet within a fortnight.

A date for the first meeting of the panel is yet to be decided even though it is more than a month since the decision to take over the college was announced. This has created apprehension among the staff on the continuing ambiguity about their status. “There is mixed feeling in the college,” said a doctor in the medical college.

Speaking to The Hindu, K. Ellangovan, principal secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, said: “Once the first meeting is held, procedures for takeover would fall in place. However, it is important to get all the facts on the table, especially on integrating the staff into the new set-up.”

“These are sensitive issues and we do not want to leave anything ambiguous for the people to agitate over,” he added. The Special Officer for the medical college will bring in details of the non-teaching doctors and other staff while the Director of Medical Education has already collected details of the teaching faculty.

The department secretaries, including finance, health, public and administrative reforms and cooperation, have to thrash out details of integrating the staff employed under an autonomous self-financing institution run by the Co-operative Academy of Professional Education (CAPE) under the Ministry of Co-operation to a fully owned government institution.

The details of each employee would include the qualifications, the post, joining date and the kind of promotions s/he has had and how these can be integrated as per government norms. There are also the issues of nursing school and college to be looked into. There are also issues of whether students admitted in the management and NRI quota will continue to pay the fee as fixed by CAPE. “The task on hands is large and all details need to be clear when the meeting is called,” said Dr. Ellangovan.

One of the doctors told The Hindu that there had been a lot of political appointments in the medical college. Yet another concern is the declaration of general elections, which, the people in the college fear may further delay the process.

Bound by the election code of conduct, the government will not be able to take decisions that would enable smooth transfer of the institute from CAPE to the Directorate of Medical Education under the Ministry of Health.

A team sent by the Director, Medical Education, had reached the medical college in the first week of January to make a detailed study of the staff categorisation and equipment in the medical college. These details are expected to help the panel decide on how to bring about a standardisation vis-à-vis other medical colleges in the State.

So far the only notification from the Government had been on CAPE providing for upkeep of the college till March 31. The Health Department will get allocation for the college in the budget that will be tabled on Friday.

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