Over the last few weeks, the nation has been divided between those who support the government’s initiative to change the country’s medical education system by introducing the National Medical Commission Bill and those who oppose it by raising concerns over ‘legalized quackery’. However, the one question that arises in the minds of many is ‘What is the National Medical Commission Bill and what changes is it proposing?’
What is the National Medical Commission Bill 2019?
National Medical Commission Bill 2019 aims to overhaul the medical education regulation system of the country. According to the proposed clauses of the Bill, the NMC would replace the existing Medical Council of India, while repealing the Indian Medical Council Act of 1956. Moreover, the Bill has made the following proposals as a part of the National Medical Commission Act –
- National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) and common counseling for all undergraduate and postgraduate super specialty medical education
- Introduction of one common exam combining MBBS final year exam and postgraduate NEET, called National Exit Test (NEXT) which would hold importance as –a. MBBS licentiate examb. Postgraduate admission exam for broad specialty medical coursesc. Screening exam for foreign medical graduates
- Validation and application of NEET, Common Counseling, and NEXT for all Institutes of National Importance (INI), such as AIIMS
- Regulation of fees and other charges for 50 percent of seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities
Functioning of the National Medical Commission
According to the proposed Bill, the National Medical Commission (NMC) would ensure optimum functioning of the Indian medical education infrastructure through the formation of four autonomous bodies.
- Undergraduate Medical Education Boarda. To set standards and regulate medical education in India at the undergraduate level
- Post Graduate Medical Education Boarda. To set standards and regulate medical education in India at postgraduate level
- Medical Assessment and Rating Board
- Ethics and Registration Boarda. To maintain a National Register with details of all licensed medical practitioners in India.
The Bill further proposes regulated maintenance of all updated websites of all medical institutes and universities for ease of access to information by the NMC or any autonomous body. The Bill has also proposed the setting up of a Medical Advisory Council which would be responsible for making timely recommendations to the NMC to improve its functioning towards the betterment of Indian medical education. On the other hand, the bill has proposed that under the new commission, the annual renewal of permissions by the medical institution should be done away with, limiting their permission-seeking responsibilities to a singular event for both the establishment as well as recognition.
Being a Medical Practitioner under the National Medical Commission
Once implemented, the National Medical Commission would bring about certain changes to the practicing rights of existing medical practitioners.
- The Bill states any individual who clears the National Exit Test (NEXT) would be eligible for automatic inclusion in the National Register under the Ethics and Registration Board.
- Furthermore, if an individual is already registered under the Indian Medical Register as per the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, then according to the Bill, such individuals too would be eligible for automatic inclusion into the National Register.
- All Foreign Medical Graduates, including those who are already licensed practitioners in the country, and those who are to appear for the screening, will have to go through the National Exit Test (NEXT).
- All persons pursuing MBBS before the immediate implementation of the NMC would be exempt from NEXT and would be allowed to be included in the National Register as per the current existing procedure.
While the nation has separate views on its importance and validation in the Indian medical education system, on a Parliamentary level, the Bill has been passed by the Raya Sabha with two proposed amendments.