NEW MEDICAL COLLEGES: Move to recruit faculty through 'lateral entry' draws flak

NEW MEDICAL COLLEGES: Move to recruit faculty through 'lateral entry' draws flak

Decision will hit functioning of existing GMCs badly, say doctors

The state administration has opened doors for lateral entry of faculty from two existing government medical colleges in Jammu and Kashmir to the upcoming five new such institutions, drawing flak from doctors who say the move could deal a severe blow to the smooth functioning of the existing institutions.

In a bid to get approval from the union health ministry to start MBBS courses in the upcoming five new medical colleges in the state, the government has decided to allow lateral entry of faculty from the two existing GMCs in Srinagar and Jammu to the new institutions, an official document revealed.

The move has, however, triggered opposition from the medical fraternity, which says the two GMCs were already struggling with the shortage of faculty.

The health and medical education department Wednesday constituted two committees, one each for Jammu and Srinagar, for selection of professors and associate professors for the five upcoming medical colleges. The selections, according to an official document, will be made by way of “lateral entry as one-time absorption” in the new institutions.

The advertisements calling for applications on the lines of the newly-framed guidelines for lateral entry of faculty will be issued soon, an official in the H&ME department said.

The decision to allow the lateral entry comes at a time when the state government is struggling to get a letter of permission (LoP) from the medical council of India (MCI) to admit a first batch of students in the new colleges. In December last year, the MCI—following its first inspection of these colleges—had expressed dissatisfaction with the preparedness in putting the requisite faculty and other staff in place.

The Council had given the government less than two months to fulfill the gaps in the human resource by way of expediting recruitments, the official said.

In November last year, the H&ME department had invited applications for filling up the posts of professors and associate professors on academic arrangement basis.

As per the criteria listed in the advertisement, only faculty members who had retired at the age of 62 but were aged less than 63 were eligible to apply. In contrast to a number of medical education institutions in India where a faculty member retires at 70, the retirement age for these posts was fixed as 65.

Although the government had said that it was mulling to enhance the age of retirement for faculty to “invite a better response”, no such decision has been taken so far.

The “tardy” recruitment process for filling up the posts of senior faculty positions in the medical colleges, another official in the H&ME department said, was a reason behind the decision.

“For years, the government did not fill up the posts that it knew were essential for starting MBBS in these colleges,” a professor at GMC Srinagar said, adding: “Now, it wants to hide its failure by this hasty decision that is set to render a blow to the existing medical colleges in the state”.

According to official figures, GMC Srinagar is already short of around 100 faculty members at various levels. The move, where faculty members from GMCs will move to the new medical colleges, will further reduce their faculty strength, the professor said.

A source said a meeting was recently convened at GMC Srinagar to discuss the fallout of the decision.

“The minutes of the meeting make it amply clear that the entire faculty voted unanimously against it (lateral entry move),” the source said.

The government didn’t pay attention to the pleas of the faculty, the source said.

The lateral posts will also be available for senior consultants and consultants possessing requisite years of experience in a 300-bedded hospital of the health department.

It is for the first time that a doctor working in a non-teaching institution will be allowed to teach at the level of professor and associate professor.

The selection committee for the two upcoming medical colleges in Kashmir division will be chaired by principals of GMCs (Srinagar and Jammu) respectively.

The other members include principals of GMC Anantnag/Baramulla/Kathua/Doda/Rajouri (as the case may be), administrator associated hospitals Srinagar, director health services Kashmir and director (coordination) new medical colleges.