Seat leaving: NMC to change service and education bond policy for doctors

  • Penalties can range up to 1 crore for doctors in government jobs and up to 50 lakh for students.

Priyanka Sharma
First Published26 May 2024
Seat leaving bond, a common practice for medical students, started with the aim of discouraging resignations.  (Photo: HT)
Seat leaving bond, a common practice for medical students, started with the aim of discouraging resignations. (Photo: HT)

New Delhi: The National Medical Commission—the medical education regulator—is considering relaxing the bond policy for doctors who have completed their NEET post graduation.

The Supreme Court said in 2019 that the Centre should reconsider the bond policy as some state governments are imposing rigid conditions and frame a uniform bond policy.

There are two types of bond policies—service bond and ‘seat leaving’ bond. Bonds are signed documents that impose a heavy fine on a student leaving the course or a doctor leaving their job.

Purpose and challenges of seat leaving bonds

Seat leaving bond, a common practice for medical students, specially PG students, started with the aim of discouraging resignations, ‘wastage’ of medical education. 

However, in the last 10 years, places in medical schools have risen substantially.

“This (seat leaving bond policy) is a very important issue as it creates a financial strain on the student. Inability to pay huge penalties creates mental health issues in the students. We have directed the states to review the seat leaving policy and suggested that instead of imposing heavy seat leaving bond, states may consider barring students from admission in their state for the next one year,” an official said.

Read | Be fair and open, NMC tells doctors in conduct review

At present, the penalty for ‘seat leaving’ ranges from 50 lakh in Goa and Telangana, 30 lakh in Madhya Pradesh, 20 lakh in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra to 5 lakh in Delhi.

“We have a case of first year female MD (pediatrics) students at private medical college in Uttar Pradesh was under stress due to toxic working environment in the college. Her parents must pay a hefty amount for seat-leaving bond for their daughter's health. This exorbitant amount on parents raises questions about the fairness and appropriateness of seat leaving bond,” said the official adding that if student fails to pay the penalty, then colleges do not release their MBBS certificates' and othe documents.

A service bond is an agreement between the doctor and the state government wherein a doctor is required to work in the state's healthcare system for 1-5 years, once they have finished med school from the same state. Penalties for leaving your job range from 1 crore to 10 lakh.

Bond policy reforms

“We are trying to ease the medical education for students following the direction of the Supreme Court. Service bond was initiated when there was a shortage of doctors. The major problem arises among students who join medical colleges from one state to another. Many cases are pending in court as students who are outside their hometown wish to practice medicine in their city. Most of the time, the Court has favored state government as court observed that why not student should serve the rural part of that state if the government colleges are charging minimal fees or no fees,” said an official.

“However, in private colleges students pay hefty fees and hence the bond policy should be relaxed. The matter is under discussion, and we are exploring ways and means to streamline this,” the official added.

A Supreme Court case has been filed by students in Karnataka who have complained that despite paying 1 crore as fees for the PG programme, there is a bond policy for them. “The Supreme Court is likely to consider the matter. Similarly, Madhya Pradesh High Court rejected the observation of private medical college that they (private college) cannot charge any bond from students,” added the official.

Queries sent to the health ministry remained unanswered.

Also read | 37,0000 medical students tell government they are suffering from mental ailments

 

 

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