‘Why open new medical colleges when existing one is seriously ailing?’

SRINAGAR: The government of India may have sanctioned four more medical colleges for the state, two of them in Kashmir Valley, but the plight of Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar raises questions over the opening up of more medical colleges.
The potential of the GMC, which was established in 1959, has remained unexploited due to lack of infrastructure and manpower. At present, the college is said to be facing a faculty deficit of 56 per cent, limiting its student-intake capacity to 150 despite having bed strength of 2400 in its eight associated hospitals.
“The bed strength of 2400 shall allow GMC to intake 250 students each year, but the lack of manpower has limited the intake. At present, we only have 44 per cent of the required faculty because the government doesn’t seem interested in filling up the vacancies,” General Secretary of GMC’s Medical Faculty Association (MFA) Dr Sajaz Qazi told Kashmir Reader.
Instead of filling up the vacancies, the government has been following a mechanism of on-same-pay grade (OPG) promotions in which a faculty member is promoted to a higher post only on paper.
Dr Qazi said at least 84 lecturers, assistant professors, associate professors, and professors in the college are OPG promoted.
“They haven’t been promoted, but only given the tag of promotions,” he said. “The Department Promotional Committee (DPC) meeting hasn’t been held since May 2010. And the resulting stagnation in the faculty positions has prevented creations of new posts at the entry level.”
“We aren’t opposed to creation of new medical colleges, which can be beneficial in long run, but what is the point of creating more colleges when the existing ones haven’t been utilized properly or are depleting,” said Dr Qazi.
The inadequate manpower has forced the college administration to leave key positions to temporary appointments. Insiders at GMC told Kashmir Reader that the senior faculty members have been handling the administrative positions in addition to their own duties of teaching and training while in few cases retired employees have been called back to run the hospitals.
For instance, Dr Muneer Ahmad Masoodi was appointed as Medical Superintendent of the Children’s Hospital after he superannuated as Head of the Social and Preventive Medicine Department, they said.
Faculty isn’t the only front where the GMC has been ignored; infrastructure too has been lacking big time. In a major decision last year, the government enhanced the intake capacity of the college from 100 to 150 without upgrading the infrastructure, which dates to the initial years of the college’s establishment.
Insiders at the GMC told Kashmir Reader that all existing facilities in the college from lecture halls to laboratories to hospital wards are under capacity.
“Lecture halls as well as laboratories in the college have been in need of expansion, but the government never took the matter seriously,” the insiders said.  “At SMHS Hospital, for instance, we take 30 students into a ward for teaching and training purposes. Now, with increase in the intake capacity, we have to accommodate 45 students.”