Hyderabad: The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill-2019, which promises to bring sweeping changes in medical education, is expected to be passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday, amidst protests from the medical community across the country.
Anticipating the passing of NMC Bill in the Lok Sabha, the local and national-level bodies of Indian Medical Association (IMA) have intensified their protests demanding more clarity on the proposed changes that form the core of the NMC Bill.
What will happen if Bill is passed? On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet passed the NMC Bill, which proposes to set-up NMC that will once and for all replace Medical Council of India (MCI).
Another major change proposed by NMC Bill is that final year MBBS students will now have to appear for a National Exit Test (NEXT). In order to practice medicine and also to get entry into PG medical courses, the medical students must clear NEXT. The exit exam will also become a screening test for students who have completed their MBBS in foreign universities.
So far, top health institutions such as All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) were beyond the purview of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), common counselling and NEXT. After the Bill, institutions such as AIIMS will also come under NEET.
The medical commission will regulate fee and all other charges for 50 per cent of medical seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities. A special Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB) will develop a ranking system for all medical colleges in the country, which will enable students choose their medical college wisely.
The NMC will set-up four autonomous boards including Under-Graduate Medical Education Board, PG Medical Education Board, MARB, Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB). The practice of annual renewal of permission for new medical colleges before recognition has been done away with the Bill.
Why professional opposing the Bill?There is a fear among senior and junior doctors that the NMC Bill might end-up doing harm to the profession. It would pave the way for more medical colleges, leading to a situation like engineering colleges that are struggling to fill-up seats every year.
Bridge Courses Another contentious issue among the doctors community is the proposal of the NMC Bill on Bridge Courses, which will allow homeopathy, dental and nursing staff to practice medicine. Due to opposition, the Centre had omitted the ‘Bridge Course’ in the NMC Bill but left it to individual States to go ahead with such courses to meet the shortage of doctors in rural areas. The decision to leave the issue of Bridge Courses to States has not gone down well with the IMA, which has termed it as deceptive.
NMC is pro-private The IMA has also alleged that the NMC Bill would be favourable to private medical colleges. The IMA points out that fee for only 50 per cent of the medical seats in private medical colleges would be regulated while the rest of the seats would be left to the private management. Moreover, annual renewal of permissions had also been done away with, which would impact quality, IMA members said.