The Medical Council of India (MCI) has debarred three Telangana and four Andhra Pradesh doctors from teaching for five years after their names were found in a 'ghost' medical faculty list in a Puducherry-based private medical institute. In fact, the seven are part of a bigger medical faculty racket unearthed at Puducherry's Vinayaka Mission's Medical College & Hospital by the Chennai anti-corruption branch of CBI. As many as 131 private doctors are allegedly involved in the racket.
Those debarred by MCI include three practicing private doctors from Hyderabad—G Vahini from Jubilee Hills, Md Jamaluddin Qadri from Mozzam Jahi Market and Md Iqbal from Shantinagar. Those from AP are P Srinivas Prasad from Tenali (Guntur), K Gopi Krishan from New Military Colony (Nellore), Y Tanuja of Dargammitta (Nellore) and Ramanathan from TSN Colony (Visakhapatnam). The MCI disciplinary committee has asked its state counterpart, AP State Medical Council (APSMC), to implement the punishment.
"They will remain suspended for three months from practice besides being banned for five years from taking up faculty job in any medical college in India. We will be issuing them formal orders towards this effect shortly," said an ethics committee member of APSMC. In the course of the hearing conducted by MCI's ethics committee on five different occasions from May to September, 2014, sources said that the seven doctors did not appear to plead their cases.
Explaining the case against the doctors, Dr K Ramesh Reddy, MCI member from Telangana, said that they had entered into a conspiracy with the errant private medical college when MCI's inspection team visited the college by falsely declaring that they were full-time faculty members.
"In return for money, they hoodwinked the MCI's annual inspection team into believing that they are full-time faculty members in the Puducherry college. But in reality, they were never there at all. This is just the tip of the iceberg as ghost faculty is a reality in more than 50% of private medical colleges in the country," he said.
While lamenting that such unethical practices are a blot on the medical profession, Reddy said that the MCI has directed all medical colleges in the country to introduce the radio frequency identification (RFID) system to track the movement of faculty members. During investigation, the CBI found that their names neither figured in the attendance register nor in the monthly salary statement maintained at that time for the regular staff. For appearing before the MCI's inspection team in the medical college, the CBI team revealed in the report that they were paid cash vouchers.
Not surprisingly, insiders in the APSMC ethics committee believe that the practice is rampant in majority of the 36-odd private medical colleges in the two states, including 15 in Telangana, but for want of a fool-proof mechanism, the MCI inspection teams visiting these colleges annually are not able to detect them.
Even in the 17 government medical colleges in the two states, sources said that the governments take MCI inspection teams for a ride by resorting to dubious methods to project faculty numbers - whether it is in the form of transferring faculty members from one college to another just before the inspection or showing junior doctors as faculty. Incidentally, under the MCI Act, all medical colleges are mandated to recruit only full-time faculty members or risk getting their admissions cancelled for two years.
Hitech solution by MCI to tackle ghost faculty
For busting ghost teachers at private medical colleges, the Medical Council of India (MCI) has come out with a hi-tech solution.
Last week, Punjab Medical Council (PMC) found more than 400 ghost teachers in four private medical colleges in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Sources in the MCI now say it is planning to implement biometric radio frequency identification system for tracking and monitoring the teachers.
A circular issued to all medical colleges says that the MCI will install radio trackers on all these campuses and upload the correct employee list after two levels of verification by a project coordinator whom the college concerned will appoint. In case fraudulent information is submitted, the college will be accountable.
The devices will be connected to the MCI through the internet, so that the monitoring happens daily. For fingerprint authentication, the teachers’ database will be Aadhaar-linked. Two years ago, Dr KK Talwar as head of the MCI board of governors, had introduced a similar system that was, later, abandoned.
Welcoming the move, PMC president Dr GS Grewal said it would “make a lot of difference”. “But the biometric data should be stored in the presence of senior functionaries of the MCI, state council, local medical university, and state’s medical education department,” he said, adding that doctors should be registered only with the medical council of the state where they worked.
How it will work
The Medical Council of India will install biometric radio trackers on campuses after preparing a correct employee list based on verification by a college-appointed coordinator. For false information, the college will be accountable. The devices will be networked online for daily monitoring. For fingerprint authentication, the teachers’ database will be Aadhaar-linked.