New bill has an objective periodic assessment of medical institutions and facilitates maintenance of a medical register for India
The National Medical Commission Bill, over which doctors went on a nationwide strike on Tuesday, seeks to provide for constitution of a National Medical Commission for development and regulation of all aspects relating to medical education, medical profession and medical institutions and a Medical Advisory Council to advise and make recommendations to the Commission.
The statement of objects and reasons of the bill said that medical education is at the core of the access to quality healthcare in any country. A flexible and well-functioning legislative framework underlying medical education is essential for the well-being of a nation.
“The Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 which was enacted to provide a solid foundation for the growth of medical education in the early decades, has not kept pace with time. Various bottlenecks have crept into the system with serious detrimental effects on medical education and, by implication, on delivery of quality health services.”
The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare in its ninety-second report has offered a critical assessment of medical education in India. The Standing Committee recommended for a decisive and exemplary action to restructure and revamp the regulatory system of medical education and medical practice and to reform the Medical Council of India in accordance with the regulatory structure suggested by the Group of Experts, chaired by Dr Ranjit Rai Choudhary, which was constituted by the central government.
The Standing Committee endorsed separation of functions by forming four autonomous boards and recommended appointment of regulators through selection rather than election and to bring a new comprehensive Bill in Parliament for this purpose, as the existing provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 are outdated.
The National Medical Commission Bill provides for a medical education system that ensures availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals.
It also encourages medical professionals to adopt latest medical research in their work and to contribute to research; that has an objective periodic assessment of medical institutions and facilitates maintenance of a medical register for India and enforces high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services; that is flexible to adapt to changing needs and has an effective grievance redressal mechanism.
Here are the highlights of the bill:
- The Chairperson shall be a person of outstanding ability, proven administrative capacity and integrity, possessing a post graduate degree in any discipline of medical sciences from any University and having experience of not less than twenty years in the field of medical sciences, out of which at least ten years shall be as a leader in the area of healthcare delivery, growth and development of modern medicine or medical education.
- The Central Government shall appoint the Chairperson, part-time Members on the recommendation of a Search Committee.
- The Chairperson and the part-time Members shall hold office for a term not exceeding four years and shall not be eligible for any extension or reappointment.
- The Commission shall perform the following functions, namely:— (a) lay down policies for maintaining a high quality and high standards in medical education and make necessary regulations in this behalf; (b) lay down policies for regulating medical institutions, medical researches and medical professionals and make necessary regulations in this behalf; (c) assess the requirements in healthcare, including human resources for health and healthcare infrastructure and develop a road map for meeting such requirements.
- The Central Government shall constitute an advisory body to be known as the Medical Advisory Council.
- There shall be a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to the undergraduate medical education in all medical institutions which are governed by the provisions of this Act.
- The Commission shall conduct a uniform National Licentiate Examination for students graduating from the medical institutions which are governed by the provisions of this Act for granting licence to practice medicine as medical practitioners and for enrolment in the State Register or the National Register, as the case may be
- The Central Government shall, by notification, constitute the following Autonomous Boards, under the overall supervision of the Commission, to perform the functions assigned to such Boards under this Act, namely:— (a) the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board (Under-Graduate Medical Education Board); (b) the Post-Graduate Medical Education Board (Post-Graduate Medical Education Board); (c) the Medical Assessment and Rating Board (Medical Assessment and Rating Board); and (d) the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (Ethics and Medical Registration Board).
- The Medical Assessment and Rating Board shall perform the following functions, namely:— (a) determine the procedure for assessing and rating the medical institutions for their compliance with the standards laid down by the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board or the Post-Graduate Medical Education Board, as the case may be, in accordance with the regulations made under this Act.
- The Ethics and Medical Registration Board shall perform the following functions, namely:— (a) maintain a National Register of all licensed medical practitioners in accordance with the provisions of section 31; (b) regulate professional conduct and promote medical ethics in accordance with the regulations made under this Act.
- Any person who qualifies the National Licentiate Examination held under section 15 shall be granted a licence to practice medicine and shall have his name and qualifications enrolled in the National Register or a State Register, as the case may be.
- No person who has obtained medical qualification from a medical institution established in any country outside India and is recognised as a medical practitioner in that country, shall, after the commencement of this Act and the National Licentiate Examination becomes operational under sub-section (3) of section 15, be enrolled in the National Register unless he qualifies the National Licentiate Examination.
- The medical qualification granted by any University or medical institution in India shall be listed and maintained by the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board or the Post-Graduate Medical Education Board, as the case may be, in such manner as may be specified by regulations and such medical qualification shall be a recognised medical qualification for the purposes of this Act.
- There shall be constituted a fund to be called "the National Medical Commission Fund" which shall form part of the public account of India
- The Commission shall furnish to the Central Government, at such time, in such form and in such manner, as may be prescribed or as the Central Government may direct, such reports and statements, containing such particulars in regard to any matter under the jurisdiction of the Commission, as the Central Government may, from time to time, require.
- If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government may, by order published in the Official Gazette, make such provisions not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, as may appear to it be necessary, for the removing the difficulty.
- The Commission shall be the successor in interest to the Medical Council of India including its subsidiaries or owned trusts and all the assets and liabilities of the Medical Council of India shall be deemed to have been transferred to the Commission.