Oct. 25: The Bengal government has come out with a brochure for a postgraduate diploma course in family medicine claiming a "technical collaboration" with the Royal College of General Practitioners, UK, but the London-based body today denied any formal association yet and wanted its name removed.
The brochure for the one-year course, published on October 4 and available on the health department's official website, claims: "All teaching and training programmes would be imparted by experienced faculty from the state and Royal College, London."
"The exit examination would be jointly conducted by the West Bengal University of Health Sciences and Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) by… knowledge-based objective structured clinical examination and other rating scales."
Sandy Mather, the head of the RCGP's international division, told The Telegraph today that the organisation was working with the Bengal government to take the diploma through its "rigorous accreditation process" but the formal collaboration was still awaiting several reviews.
"A draft curriculum for the course is under assessment now and is expected to be finalised by November. It is expected to undergo another review by February," Mather said.
Mather added she believed the Bengal government's announcement mentioning the RCGP was "an administrative error" and that the organisation has written to the state asking it to remove the reference to its name in the brochure.
An RCGP membership allows a general practitioner from India to practice in the UK.
"It's similar to the Royal College of Physicians," said a Calcutta-based critical care expert trained in the UK. "General practitioners are supposed to provide preliminary care to patients."
The health department has already received more than 100 applications from MBBS doctors for 24 seats in the diploma course, an official said.
"The department of health and family welfare, government of West Bengal in technical collaboration with the RCGP, London, UK, decided to conduct a one year comprehensive diplomate course in family medicine in 2012-2012 session," the brochure says.
The brochure for the higher education course is not only littered with basic English errors, it also wrongly mentions the session as 2012-2012.
"It's a mistake. We'll rectify it and make it 2012-13," an official said.
The RCGP got in touch with the state government over the brochure after NRI doctor Kunal Saha brought the claim to the organisation's notice.
Ohio-based Saha is legally fighting several Calcutta doctors and a private hospital for many years over his wife Anuradha's death because of alleged medical negligence.
Last week, Saha had caused embarrassment to Mamata Banerjee as the Supreme Court issued a notice asking why she should not be made a party to a case challenging the appointment of one of the accused doctors, Sukumar Mukherjee, as the chief health adviser to the state government.
"The RCGP told me they have not yet given accreditation to the course," Saha said.
Swasthya Bhavan officials said they were yet to receive any written communication from the RCGP. "I have spoken to their co-ordinator in London and there is no question of dropping plans to start the course," said Sushanta Banerjee, the state's director of medical education.
He said a MoU for the diploma course was signed between the RCGP and the health department in July. "However, some programme modules are being finalised by the RCGP and that is causing the delay."
The official conceded that though the course was scheduled to begin in 2012, it was unlikely now. "We are expecting it to start rolling by January 2013," Sushanta Banerjee said.