National Medical Commission Bill

 Relevancy

  • G.S. Paper 2,3

Background:

  • The Medical Council of India was first established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933. This Act was repealed and replaced with a new Act in 1956. Under the 1956 Act, the objectives of MCI include:
  • Maintenance of standards in medical education through curriculum guidelines, inspections and permissions to start colleges, courses or increasing number of seats.

Recognition of medical qualifications.

  • Registration of doctors and maintenance of the All India Medical Register.
  • Regulation of the medical profession by prescribing a code of conduct and taking action against erring doctors.

National Medical Commission Bill:

  • The bill provides for the constitution of four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting undergraduate and postgraduate education, assessment and accreditation of medical institutions and registration of practitioners under the National Medical Commission.

Composition of National Medical Commission:

  • It will have government nominated chairman and members, and the board members will be selected by a search committee under the Cabinet Secretary. There will be five elected and 12 ex-officio members in the commission.
  • As per the Bill, the government, under the National Medical Commission (NMC), can dictate guidelines for fees up to 40% of seats in private medical colleges.
  • The bill also has a provision for a common entrance exam and licentiate (exit) exam that medical graduates have to pass before practising or pursuing PG courses. For MBBS, students have to clear NEET, and before they step into practice, they must pass the exit exam.
  • Recognised medical institutions don’t need the regulator’s permission to add more seats or start PG course. This mechanism is to reduce the discretionary powers of the regulator.
  • Earlier, medical colleges required the MCI’s approval for establishment, recognition, renewal of the yearly permission or recognition of degrees, and even increase the number of students they admitted.
  • Under the new bill, the powers of the regulator are reduced to establishment and recognition. This means less red tape, but also less scrutiny of medical colleges.

Significance and the need:

  • The Bill seeks to regulate medical education and practice in India.
  • The Bill attempts to tackle two main things on quality and quantity: Corruption in medical education and shortage of medical professionals.
  • The Bill aims to overhaul the corrupt and inefficient Medical Council of India, which regulates medical education and practice and replace with National medical commission.

Why is Medical Council of India being replaced?

  • The Medical Council of India has repeatedly been found short of fulfilling its mandated responsibilities.
  • Quality of medical education is at its lowest ebb; the current model of medical education is not producing the right type of health professionals that meet the basic health needs of the country because medical education and curricula are not integrated with the needs of our health system.
  • Medical graduates lack competence in performing basic health care tasks like conducting normal deliveries; instances of unethical practice continue to grow due to which respect for the profession has dwindled.
  • Compromised individuals have been able to make it to the MCI, but the Ministry is not empowered to remove or sanction a Member of the Council even if he has been proved corrupt.

Concerns:

  • A bridge course allowing alternative-medicine practitioners to prescribe modern drugs is mentioned in the bill. Unscientific mixing of systems and empowering of other practitioners through bridge courses will only pave the way for substandard doctors and substandard medical practice. This will seriously impact patient care and patient safety
  • Indian Medical Association (IMA) opposed the bill that it will cripple the functioning of medical professionals by making them completely answerable to the bureaucracy and non-medical administrators .NMC will become subservient to the health ministry, given that the representation of the medical profession in the new regulatory framework is minimal.
  • The bill takes away the voting right of every doctor in India to elect their medical council.
  • The bill allows private medical colleges to charge at will, nullifying whatever solace the NEET brought. The proposed NMC Bill discreetly intends to equate the post-graduate degrees given by MCI or proposed NMC and the National Board of Examination (NBE), which is unjustified too.
  • Standards have been laid down for MCI courses, but not for NBE courses which are often run in private hospitals and nursing homes.
  • It would replace an elected body (Medical Council of India, MCI) with one where representatives are “nominated.