Include citizens in Maharashtra Medical Council panel, demand health activists and doctors

Demand comes against the backdrop of non-transparency in functioning and handling of complaints in MMC

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Doctors and citizens address a press meet on Friday in Mumbai

Ahead of the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) election, health activists and doctors’ group have demanded to elect a non-doctor too in the Council’s panel. The MMC is a quasi-judicial body which governs the quality of medical education and medical ethics in the state.

The Council is slated to have its elections on December 18.

“Health care is too important to leave it only as doctors’ responsibility. Citizen and doctors both should work together,” said Dr Abhay Shukla, Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH).

In a press meet held on Friday, representatives of the Citizen-Doctors Forum, Mumbai (CDF-M) and ADEH appealed to include non-doctor in the MMC.

Shukla said presence of non-doctors will bring transparency and accountability in MMC’s functioning. “Presently, only doctors are a part of the panel. They work like a secret body. MMC exists, but a layman does not know much about it, so it is necessary that citizens are included in MMC,” said Shukla.

MMC is also responsible to look after all medical negligence cases. Representatives of two organisations alleged that there is no orderliness and process is not followed in handling complaints.

“Panel also keeps changing during hearing, thus there is no continuity in enquiry process. Often it is observed that a complainant’s faith is shaken after seeing new faces every time on enquiry panel,” said Dr Arun Gadre, one of the representatives.

Talking about functioning of MMC, Shreya Nimonkar, who is a victim, said there is no solution for suffering of patients. “When I filed RTI in 2015 to seek information about my year-long pending case with MMC, it was revealed to me that over 750 cases are pending for hearing since a decade.” said Nimonkar.

Representatives also voiced their concern over the website of MMC being unfriendly for patients who want to register complaints against doctors. “There is no information for patients on how to file complaint, whom to approach or in what form the complaint should be filed etc. There have been cases where anyone tried calling on the contact number given on the website, it has not been answered number of times,” said Nimonkar.

The organisations also pointed out that MMC lacks in taking concrete steps towards promoting ethics and promoting generic medicines within the council. Talking about ethics Dr Shukla said, “MMC needs to set up a formal accountable ethics committee, where it consists of lay man and doctors both.”