SEEKING TO ease the norms for setting up new medical colleges, the National Medical Commission (NMC), the country’s apex medical education regulator, has proposed a relaxation in the mandatory requirement of having a “fully functional” hospital for at least two years before starting a medical college. This exemption will apply only to organisations that have experience in running a medical college and 1,000-bed multi-speciality hospital elsewhere in the country.
According to the existing Establishment of Medical College Regulations, the person setting up the college must “own and manage a fully functional minimum 300-bedded hospital with necessary infrastructural facilities capable of being developed into a teaching institution… the hospital should be fully functional for a minimum period of two years.”
Now, in a draft notification, the NMC has said that “the condition of ‘fully functional hospital for a minimum period of two years’ shall not apply in case of universities and deemed universities having experience of establishing and running fully functional recognised medical colleges and hospitals of 1,000 bed or more, for at least two years, anywhere in India.”
It adds certain riders: “The building of both the hospital and medical college is owned and managed by the same organisation; the building of the proposed medical college has not been used for any other purpose before…; and at the time of the application, (it) has an established multi-speciality hospital with at least 1,000 in-patient beds and fulfilling all other norms under the regulation”.
The NMC has sought public comments on the draft notification for a period of 30 days.
The move is being seen as part of the attempt to increase medical seats across the country. The number of MBBS seats in the country has increased from just over 51,000 in 2014 to almost 92,000 for the 2022-23 batch. The government has supported increase in the number of seats in existing colleges, setting up new colleges with existing district hospitals, and setting up new AIIMS.
“There have been discussions about relaxing the norm of having an established hospital to help in increasing the number of medical seats in the country. It was initially a three-year period, which was then reduced to two years. Now, it has been done away with,” said a senior official of a private medical college. “Any hospital takes some time to get established and see patients coming in. Now, if that (rule) is relaxed, medical colleges can be established at the same time that the hospital is being set up. So how can the students be taught in the initial years? Also, having a college and hospital in different parts of the country doesn’t really help,” said the official.
“This will help in rapidly increasing the number of medical colleges and help in achieving the Prime Minister’s vision of having a medical college in each district of the country,” said Dr J C Passey, dean of World College of Medical Sciences and Research in Rohtak.