Parliamentary committee suggests major changes in the proposed NMC bill, doctors call it "partial success"

The NMC bill, which was tabled in the parliament in December, 2017 has faced strong protests from various quarters, particularly doctors’ organisations such as Indian Medical Association.

Published: 20th March 2018 07:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2018 09:11 PM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose.

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A parliamentary committee has recommended that the bridge course, proposed in the controversial National Medical Commission Bill, to allow practitioners of traditional medicine to pratice modern medicine through a short-duration course, should not be a mandatory provision and the decision should be left to states.

The standing committee on health and family welfare, that was referred the Bill, which seeks to overhaul the medical education regulation in the country and replace the existing Medical Council of India with a different body, has also suggested that there should not be a separate licentiate test for MBBS doctors.

Final year MBBS examination can double up as exit test based on which doctors can be given license to practice, the panel has suggested.

The NMC bill, which was tabled in the parliament in December, 2017 has faced strong protests from various quarters, particularly doctors’ organisations such as Indian Medical Association, due to several clauses.

IMA, for instance, has been saying that “bridge course” will promote “quackery” as homeopaths, ayurveda doctors and other practitioners of alternative medicines cannot be taught allopathy through a "crash course".

The committee, in its 136-page report that was tabled in the House on Tuesdya has said that while the bill suggests government regulation of fee in 40 per cent seats in private medical colleges, it should be increased to 50 per cent—leaving the college to decide fee structure for the rest.

The report also notes that the proposed Commission does not have adequate representation from the states and has suggested there should be 29 members of the Commission and while 9 of them should be elected representatives of medical fraternity, 10 should be nominated by states.

The panel has also said that the Niti Aayog, CEO should not be a part of the search committee for appointment of the Chairperson, Members and Secretary of the Commission as the present form bill says.

“The committee observes that NITI Aayog has been instrumental in drafting the NMC Bill and hence its own presence in the Search Committee for appointment of Chairperson and Members of the Commission tantamounts to conflict of interest,” says the report.

During the common counseling during the admission in medical colleges, the panel noted, there is utter confusion amongst the various stakeholders including parents & respective medical colleges and as a result many seats remain vacant.

It has recommended that the common counselling as per existing provision be held on all India and state levels in the first stage while medical colleges be given authority to take admissions based on their own criteria for the seats that remain vacant.

Sources in the health ministry said that though the report is not binding on the government, fine print of the recommendations are being studied at the senior most level to decide further course of action.

IMA president Ravi Wankhedkar told The New Indian Express that it was “partial relief” but not “very heartening.”

“We understand that this report is only recommendatory in nature and even this does not address all our concerns. In a few days we well decide how should we take forward our protest of the bill,” he said.

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