On March 28, 2018, the Union Cabinet, chaired by Honorable Prime Minister of India, approved certain official amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill. The NMC Bill seeks to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with National Medical Commission as top regulator of medical education in India. It purposes to form outcome-based regulation of medical education rather than process based regulation. The bill will ensure proper separation of functions within regulator by having autonomous boards, create accountable and transparent procedures for maintaining standards in Medical Education.
The amendment to the NMC Bill comes in the backdrop of its consideration in the Lok Sabha on January 02, 2018, and subsequently being referred to the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee (DRPSC). The Government has considered the recommendations made by the Standing Committee in its report tabled in the House on March 20, 2018 and general feedback, particularly the views of medical students and medical practitioners regarding certain provisions of the Bill.
The Approved Amendments include11:
Final MBBS Examination or National Exit Test (NEXT): The final MBBS examination will be held as a common exam across the country and would serve as an exit test called the National Exit Test (NEXT). This will help to not subject the students to an additional licentiate exam for getting license to practice. Thus, the students will not be required to appear in a separate exam after MBBS to get license to practice. NEXT will also serve as the screening test for doctors with foreign medical qualifications in order to practice in India.
Provision of Bridge Course: The bill removes the provision dealing with bridge course for AYUSH practitioners to practice modern medicine to a limited extent. It also authorizes the State Governments to take necessary measures for addressing and promoting primary health care in rural areas.
Fee regulation in private medical institutions and deemed universities: The earlier maximum limit of 40% seats for which fee is regulated in private medical institutions and deemed universities has been increased to 50% seats. Further, it has been clarified that the fee will also include all other charges taken by the colleges.
Number of nominees from States/UTs in NMC: Responding to the demands from States to increase their representation in the NMC, the nominees of States and UTs in the NMC have been increased from 3 to 6. The NMC will comprise of 25 members of which at least 21 will be doctors.
Monetary penalty for non-compliance: The bill adds provision for different penalty options for Medical Colleges which are non-compliant with the norms. It includes a wide range of monetary penalties, ranging from one half to ten times the annual fee recovered from a batch, to be imposed in a graded manner on a medical college non- compliant with the norms. This clause has been replaced with a provision which provides different options for warning, reasonable monetary penalty, reducing intake, stoppage of admission leading up to withdrawal of recognition.
Stringent punishment for unqualified medical practitioners or quacks: The government is concerned about the quality and safety of health care being made available to the citizens and the need for strict action against unqualified practitioners or quacks. The punishment for any unauthorized practice of medicine has been made ion for imprisonment of up to one year along with a fine extending up to Rs. 5 lakhs.
The Cabinet's decision is more in the favor of IMA and medical students, supports qualified practitioners and has mandated strict action against unqualified practitioners or quacks as government remains concerned about the quality of healthcare in the country. Further, it also empowers the State Governments to take necessary measures for addressing and promoting primary health care in rural areas.
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