Hospitals get PG seats but can’t meet standards

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Fake faculty, fake patients, inadequate infrastructure these grievances are common about private medical colleges. They are now cropping up in complaints against private hospitals accredited by the National Board of Examination (NBE) for post-graduate seats. Yet, when a student complained about one such institution, the board responded saying that the hospital authorities “confirmed that they are following all the norms, rules and regulations set by NBE” and hence the matter closed. There was no investigation or inspection to check whether the complaint had merit. 

The assurance of the accused was enough for the matter to be closed. This despite the fact that there have been several cases of hospitals shutting shop or DNB (Diplomate of National Board) programmes having to be shut down for not complying with the minimum requirements to run the programme. In most cases, NBE had to relocate the stranded students to other hospitals. In 2018 alone, DNB programmes in 12 institutions accounting for 44 seats in various disciplines had to be shut down and 50 student had to be relocated. 

In 2017, three DNB programmes accounting for seven seats had to be discontinued. Mercifully, no students had to be relocated as there were none. No programmes were shut down in 2015 and 2016. “Since there was no governing body in 2015 and half of year 2016, no decisions were made regarding withdrawal of accreditation,” said an NBE spokesperson. With no governing body, students’ complaints went unresolved forcing many of them to drop out of DNB programmes. NBE regulates DNB, a post graduate qualification like MD/MS.

DNB seats are mostly in private hospitals or institutions accredited by the NBE after an assessment to ensure that they have the required infrastructure, patient load and faculty. Single specialty hospitals must have at least 100 beds and multi-specialty hospitals at least 200 to be eligible for a DNB seat. However, DNB students in several hospitals have complained about not even 100 beds actually being available and asked the NBE to do surprise inspections. 

“Unlike MCI, which puts up assessment reports of medical colleges in the public domain, the NBE refuses to do so. Hence students have no way of knowing what kind of an institution they are joining or what infrastructure the institute claims to have. Shifting students to other cities in the middle of a course causes much hardship,” said Dr Teena Gupta, National Secretary of the Association of DNB Doctors.