NMC Bill: ‘If our demands are not met, we will protest’

After much hue and cry over the National Commission Bill which was sent to the standing committee for recommendations. On Monday, the AIMS doctors discussed it in detail. Here are the highlights of the discussion

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  • The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017, which was approved by the Union Cabinet on December 18, is to set up a new and transparent system of regulating healthcare. 
  • However, Indian Medical Association (IMA) opposes the bill. It says that the newly introduced bill is flawed then the old one.
  • Informing about the government’s decision in the Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said, “Those who opposed the bill demanded that the bill should be sent to the standing committee. The government is ready to send the bill to the standing committee. I would request the speaker to ask the standing committee to give their recommendations before the budget session.”
  • “This is the second time that the bill is being sent to the standing committee. So, the standing committee should give the recommendations before the budget session,” said the Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

On Sunday, a letter was sent out to all healthcare professionals by AIIMS, New Delhi regarding the controversial NMC bill.The letter had stated that, ‘As we all know, the NMC bill was referred to the standing committee under the chairmanship of Ram Gopal Yadav, on January 01, 2018 to submit a report in the budget session of Parliament starting from January 29, 2018.

Their message informed that medical education is a very important part of the healthcare system and it is our duty and social responsibility to sit together and discuss about the policy which will govern the future of medical education.

On Monday, doctors across the fraternity along with their support showed up for a detailed discussion. The discussion touched upon and pointed out major flaws with the NMC bill. About 500 audiences as well as many dignitaries were a part of this discussion.

Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, President, RDA AIIMS, New Delhi said, “Overall this bill has flaws in each and every section of it, we will not accept this bill in present form and will rewrite the complete bill with possible solutions as discussed in the meeting and will submit our proposed bill to chairman standing committee and also to union health minister. We will also request chairman, standing committee to give us time to present our proposed bill in front of them.”

He added, “If our demands are not considered, then RDA AIIMS will lead the nationwide agitation and will come on roads for the betterment of medical education in India.”

Following are the points discussed:

  • We reject this bill in its present form for all aspects.
  • This bill requires a complete makeover rather than amendments because it will not solve the purpose for which it was made.
  • The bill promotes bureaucratisation and politicisation of medical education and doesn’t provide independence to the NMC. It will be more like the puppet in the hands of government and bureaucrats.
  • Most of the members are nominated by government and suggested by bureaucrats.
  • Decision on fees regulation of only up to 40 per cent and providing free hand to private medical colleges is the worst part of the bill and promote capitalisation and will increase the cost of medical education to tremendous level.
  • It will move the medical education out of the reach of the poor and underprivileged section of society.
  • No strict guidelines to regulate functioning of private medical colleges were mentioned in the bill, only monetary penalty that too not specified.
  • National licentiate examination (NLE) is a welcome step for quality assurance of medical education but there is no clear description that how will this exam be conducted, whether objective MCQ based, subjective or clinical assessment or altogether.
  • There is no description whether bridge courses holder will also have to appear for NLE or not.
  • As this exam will also give entry to post graduate courses but every year around 65000 doctors pass MBBS and give PG entrance exam for around 15000 seats.
  • No clear guidelines for registration process, whether registration is required every year or not.
  • Bridge course: This is the most unacceptable step of government, everyone in single voice complete refused the concept of bridge course, there is no clear definition of bridge course, what purpose it will serve, where they be recruited, whether they appear for licentiate examination, whether they will be trained enough to be liable for medico legal cases and medical negligence, if not then is it ethical to allow them to practice.