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National Medical Council Bill
The National Medical Commission Bill, 2017, which aims to overhaul medical education in India and replace the 83-year-old Medical Council of India with a government-appointed NMC, has several worrying features.
The Bill sets up the National Medical Commission (NMC). The NMC will regulate medical education and practice. It will determine fees for up to 40% seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities.
The NMC will consist of 25 members. A Search Committee will recommend names to the central government for the post of Chairperson, and the part time members.
Four autonomous Boards have been set up under the supervision of the NMC. These Boards will focus on undergraduate and postgraduate medical education, assessment and rating, and ethical conduct.
There will be a National Licentiate Examination for doctors to obtain a licence to practice after graduation. This examination will also be the basis for admission to post-graduate medical courses.
State Medical Councils will receive complaints relating to professional or ethical misconduct against a doctor. If the doctor is aggrieved of a decision of the State Medical Council, he may appeal to successively higher levels of authority.
The Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and aims to reform the medical education sector, which has been under scrutiny for corruption and unethical practices. It provide for a medical education system which ensures:
- Availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals
- Adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals
- Periodic assessment of medical institutions
- An effective grievance redressal mechanism
Two controversial proposals in the previous draft:
- National Exit Test:Proposal to test the knowledge the MBBS students for giving them license to practice. Many say that doctors are negligent, and the idea was to ensure the quality and that it has been tested. It has been dropped as there is a requirement of strengthening our examination system and a uniform strong system across the country.
- A bridge course to enable AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy) practitioners of alternative medicines to practice and dispense modern medicines:It cannot take care of the interlinking, drug interactions and replace the MBBS course.
However, due to controversies and Observing the need to act strictly against unqualified practitioners, the Centre approved with above amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, which will now be tabled in Parliament.
- Final MBBS examination to be held as a common exam across the country and would serve as an exit test – National Exit Test (NEXT). It would also serve as the screening test for doctors with foreign medical qualifications in order to practise in India.
- The provision dealing with “bridge course” for AYUSH practitioners to practise modern medicine has been removed.
- The maximum limit of 40% seats — for which fee would be regulated in private medical institutions and deemed universities — has been increased to 50%.
- Number of nominees from states and UTs in the NMC has been increased from 3 to 6. The NMC will comprise 25 members of which at least 21 will be doctors.
- Monetary penalty on a medical college non-compliant has been replaced with provision that provides other penalty options.
- Stringent punishment for unqualified medical practitioners or quacks could be as severe as imprisonment of up to one year along with a fine up to Rs5lakh