KMC students use the hospital’s facilities for practice

Despite being among the oldest hospitals in the State, and one that is integrally connected to the healthcare infrastructure and medical education in the district, the long-pending proposal to start a government medical college at Wenlock hospital seems to have hit a road block.

The proposal to start a college was taken up in earnest when hospital authorities sent a letter to Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) on July 16, 2011 claiming that the hospital has all the facilities needed to start a medical college. With Lady Goschen Hospital and Wenlock Hospital occupying 17.08 acres of land cumulatively, and 2.5 acres available for a staff quarters, the hospital has the facilities needed for an MBBS course with 150 class strength, and post-graduate courses for 75 students, the letter says.

An official at Wenlock Hospital, who had been witness to numerous meetings asking for a government college at the hospital, said while the BJP-led government had immediately rejected the letter, the recently-elected Congress-led government have been giving mixed signals about the proposal.

“We have discussions every now and then, but there is a sense that the proposal is being shot down as Kasturba Medical College won’t be able to send students to Wenlock for practice, and its student intake will reduce considerably,” said the official.

The current agreement with KMC dates back to 1955, when the Madras Province allowed them to use the infrastructure of the hospital. “The agreement does not set a time frame for the use. There have been no renewals of this either. Though Wenlock benefits from their medical expertise, the equipment, drugs are paid for by us,” said the official. Currently, KMC pays Wenlock nearly Rs. 1.23 crore per annum as clinical fee, a charge that sees 729 students from the college – in undergraduate and post graduate courses – practice in the two hospitals.

P.S. Hanif Sahab, an advocate, who extracted information through RTI to press for a government college, believes that the continuing tie-up with the private hospital has ensured that a government medical college is not set up at the two hospitals. “Instead of using Wenlock for students of government hospitals, it is being used by KMC to increase their intake of students,” he said.

‘Mutually beneficial’

Dean of KMC, Mangalore, M. Venkataraya Prabhu, said KMC was running one of the largest colleges in the country, and their tie-up with Wenlock Hospital was a private-public partnership that benefited both hospitals. “The tie-up is based on the 1955 agreement, and is ad infinitum. So, far we have had no problem with Wenlock, or they with us. A decision to start a government medical hospital is entirely up to the government,” he said.

More In: Mangaluru