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Bengal: Medical Community Outraged at CM's Suggestion of 15-Day Training for Nurses, 3-Year Diploma for Docs

The announcement came during a press conference in Nabanna when the CM asked the health secretary if these suggestions could be implemented.
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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Image Courtesy: PTI

After finishing a three-year diploma programme, one might become a doctor. One needs just 15 days of training for a number. Senior nurses can get promoted to "semi" doctors.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee proposed these things to address the shortage of physicians in the state. However, Banerjee's announcement was fiercely rejected by the doctors.

The announcement came during a press conference in Nabanna when the CM asked the health secretary if these suggestions could be implemented.

"Those who are original doctors must study a lot, take exams, and study for a long time," she explained. "They are also functional. But, as time passes, the hospital grows, and the number of patients and hospital beds also grows. So, if we can develop a certificate course for doctors, similar to engineering, with them performing medical work in primary health care centres, everyone will greatly benefit."

The CM discussed several ideas for nurses in addition to doctors.

By elevating senior nurses, she hopes to create "semi" doctors. After 15 days of training, she is considering pursuing a career as a nurse.

"There is a problem because there are fewer nurses," CM stated.

"There should be more nursing schools. With the right instructions, they can be controlled. It only takes 15 days of training. Senior nurses who have five to ten years before retiring may be elevated to the semi-doctoral level."

Banerjee also urged to form a committee to investigate all of these ideas.

The chairman of this committee will be Narayan Swarup Nigam, the health secretary. She requested that nurses, senior doctors, and junior doctors remain in the group so that they could provide input.

The CM claims that this will generate employment.

However, her suggestion was met with vehement opposition from the medical community.

Fuad Halim, a physician who works for the underprivileged, said, "This statement of the Chief Minister is very unfortunate. Yesterday, she acknowledged that the state needs more physicians. She promised to fill all the doctor openings after taking office in 2011. But her declaration yesterday demonstrated that she has utterly failed to build the state's medical infrastructure since 2011 and has been unable to keep her commitments. The state's healthcare system is totally in ruins."

State secretary of the Medical Services Centre, Dr Biplab Chandra, said in a statement, "CM Banerjee has once again proposed introducing a 15-day diploma course for nurses and doctors and employing those diploma holders in primary health centres and health centres. We strongly oppose this."

He said, "After a lot of scientific reviews and on the recommendations of the early committee, the minimum time to become an MBBS doctor in India is five and a half years, and it is very important to complete an important course like medicine. In this case, the unscientific proposal of the Chief Minister as an unscientific diploma doctor is purposeful for the rural people. We oppose the wrongful policy of introducing 15 days of nursing and depriving people of health."

He highlighted how the National Medical Commission, the highest regulatory body for health and education, introduced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre, has appointed BSc nurses to the post of community health officers to treat people in villages.

"It is cheating the rural people, and the Trinamool government of the state has fully enforced it. We have opposed this too."

Manas Gumta, the editor of the West Bengal Association of Health Service Doctors, said, "Is it possible to play with people's lives? It is understood that you are not appointing the police but running it with civic volunteers. But in medicine, which is an important matter in human life, doctors can't be made like this."

Sangamri Joutho Moncho and the Service Doctors Forum have moved against this proposal of the Chief Minister.

In a statement, they said, "The Chief Minister's plan to create diploma doctors in the name of utilising primary health centres is extremely unscientific. A move is very harmful to public health, which is practically nothing but a poll surprise. We are protesting this decision."

The opposition has strongly criticised this idea of the Chief Minister. They alleged that the state's health system has practically collapsed.

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