The West Bengal government is planning to increase seats in medical colleges by adding 600 seats by 2011, officials said here on recently. This is being done in response to a proposal from the Medical Council of India (MCI).

The matter was discussed in a meeting with the Principals of the colleges, the State’s Health Secretary Samar Ghosh and the Director of Medical Education Professor S. N. Banerjee recently. Issues pertaining to infrastructural needs of the respective colleges were raised at the meeting.

“The MCI proposal is part of an all-India drive to increase the capacity of medical colleges. If the necessary approvals come through, about 600 additional seats will be added to the State-run colleges in West Bengal,” Professor S. N. Banerjee, told The Hindu.

Currently there are 1,000 seats in colleges across the State with 150 seats each in Calcutta Medical College, Calcutta National Medical College, R. G. Kar Medical College and N. R. S. Medical College and 100 each in colleges in Bankura, Bardhaman, Medinipur and Darjeeling districts, he said.

“Increasing the intake capacity of existing medical colleges instead of establishing new ones would enable cutting down on the shortages of doctors in the country faster,” said Professor Sushanta Kumar Banerjee, principal of R. G. Kar Medical College.

“It could not be done this year as there are many procedural formalities,” Professor S. N. Banerjee said.

After conducting feasibility studies, all colleges will have to obtain certification from the Directorate of Medical Education and the West Bengal University of Health Sciences before applying to the MCI for permission, he said.

Infrastructure

But infrastructure including lecture halls, laboratories and hostels will have to be looked into before the proposal can be implemented, he added.

For example, although R. G. Kar Medical College has sufficient facilities to increase its intake capacity by 100, it will be able to do so by only 50 seats because according to an MCI stipulation a college with 250 students must have a 1,500 bed hospital attached, said Professor S. K. Banerjee.

“Our hospital has an official strength of 1,250 beds, so on the grounds of this technicality we will be able to increase our strength only by 50 seats,” he added.

“For increasing 50 seats the infrastructure requirements will be minimal, which we have already communicated to the State government,” said Professor J. D. Saha, principal of the North Bengal Medical College.