KOLKATTA: With uncertainty prevailing over the Medical Council of India (MCI) recommendation to the Centre for cancelling 395 out of the 445 medical seats increased in West Bengal over the past five years, the state government preferred to keep mum over it.
"This is not the place to discuss this," West Bengal Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Chandrima Bhattacharya said when he was asked to comment, on the sidelines of CII-organised Nursing Conclave 2017.
The state health department has already filed a plea against the order.
The suggestion was made after the statutory body which is in charge of maintaining the standard of medical education in the country allegedly found most medical institutes in West Bengal lacking the ideal infrastructure needed to accommodate the increased number of students.
At present the 17 medical colleges in the state has 2,450 seats. If 395 of them are cancelled as per the recommendation by MCI, the number of seats in the state will be whittled down to 2,045.
According to reports, MCI had in 2014 too suggested cancellation of over 500 medical seats but chief minister Mamata Banerjee had intervened and countered the move.
At the conclave Bhattacharya highlighted the "great strides" taken by the state government in improving the health services in Bengal.
She said since 2011-12 the state health budget had been increased by 278 per cent to Rs 3299 crore in the current fiscal despite huge annual expenditure of Rs 40,000 crore on account of interest payment to Centre.
The minister said government had made all treatment and services in state hospitals free.
"The number of beds have been increased by 27,000 in government hospitals and health centers, which is 35 per cent rise in the short span of time," Bhattacharya said.
Government is also setting up five new medical colleges in the state and increasing nursing training seats, she said.
The minister also pointed that out of 45,000 vacancies in the health department, 38,000 professionals had aready been appointed.