State Leash on Foreign Doctors
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29 July 2010
Doctors who take up foreign citizenship will lose their Bengal registration
Doctors from West Bengal who decide to settle abroad will have to choose between their motherland and foster country. The West Bengal Medical Council Act – passed in the assembly on Wednesday – bars doctors who have foreign citizenship from practicing in the state.
The Act states if a registered practitioner ceases to be citizen of India, his name shall automatically be removed from the logbook of registered practitioners.
State health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra said those who get foreign citizenship cannot continue to have their registration here. “Their names will be struck out. We can’t fatten the register to keep all these names,” Mishra said.
The state health department doesn’t have exact figures of how many doctors who have foreign citizenship are practicing here. “How can I say how many such doctors are currently practicing in Kolkata,” Mishra asked.
With the increase in the number of private hospitals a number of doctors have returned from abroad and are practicing here. “It will require an inquiry to find out how many such doctors are working in the state now. There could be people with dual citizenship. What will happen in their case?” asked a senior official of a private hospital.
Sources said that many doctors who have passed out from the state’s medical colleges have settled abroad and taken citizenship. “Their names continue to remain on the medical council register. Thus the number of registered doctors is much higher than the actually available. Indian doctors cannot go and practice in the United Kingdom, so why should doctors with British citizenship be allowed here,” said IMA (Bengal) state secretary Sanjay Banerjee.
Doctors in India have to register either with state medical councils or the Medical Council for India (MCI). Around 10 years back, MCI made it mandatory for doctors to register with local state bodies for practicing in the state. Many hospitals have been getting doctors or surgeons from abroad or other states to get procedures done here.
“The MCI regulation makes it mandatory for doctors to register with the state bodies but the rule is hardly followed,” said a senior health department official.
Former IMA (Bengal) president Subir Ganguly said that the new rule will create problems. “If somebody who has been staying abroad for many years decides to come back and start practicing, what will he do? If they’re denied the right to practice here, patients will be deprived of their valuable services,” Ganguly said.
The West Bengal Medical Council Act also gives more teeth to the council to deal with cases of medical negligence. “The council will have the power to issue summons. Those defying the summons will be punished,” said Mishra. Members from different sections of the society will make up the council.
Storm in assembly over medical bill
Kolkata: Assembly speaker Hasim Abdul Halim on Wednesday yielded to the demand of the opposition and deferred by a day discussions on The West Bengal Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Bill 2009.
Congress legislature party leader Manas Bhunia accused the government of succumbing to the pressure of the “private hospital lobby” and hastily moving 42 amendments that would “alter the entire spirit of the original bill”. The bill will regulate activities of clinical establishments and create provisions to address patients’ grievances.