Nurses and midwives in Maharashtra have opposed the National Nursing and Midwifery Commission draft Bill 2020. The Bill intends to replace the nursing council with a nursing and midwifery commission and will hold power to register and regulate ethical practices of nurses on the lines of the National Medical Commission that replaces the Indian medical councils. Nurses in Kerala and Karnataka had also voiced their opposition to the Bill.
Nurses have opposed the idea of changing autonomous councils into a commission. “Most representatives in commission are going to be nominated in Delhi, there is very little representation from other parts of the country. Also the election process and autonomy each state council enjoyed are done away with,” said Dr Swati Rane, from Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan. Rane added that the Centre did not give enough publicity to the Bill or enough time to nurses to give suggestions on the draft Bill. It was uploaded for suggestions in November and accepted suggestions till December 6.
Why nurses are upset
Nurses have complained that the government's decision to nominate rather than elect members for board will not give a fair representation. In Maharashtra, only one representative from Tata Memorial hospital will be nominated. The nursing force has also objected to total control of central commission over state commissions.
“We feel the Bill is completely in favour of private institutions in the country and it liquidates the standard of profession by reducing the value. There are several points that need to be clarified,” said the United Nursing Association in a statement. Jibin TC, from the association, said, “The Bill does not talk about regulation of private hospitals in providing support to nursing staff. About 70-80 per cent of the workforce is in private hospitals.”
The draft Bill states that the commission will frame policies, regulate standard of nursing and midwifery education, frame regulation for their working, provide uniform entry and exit examinations, monitor professional ethics, and control state commissions.
Both central and state commission members will be appointed by central and state ministry, replacing the existing system of election to appoint nursing council members. The commission is supposed to meet at least once every three months.
The draft Bill also sets up UG and PG education boards to decide the curriculum, look at minimum standards of institutional infrastructure, and training of teachers. Another board under the Bill will be set up for assessment and rating to inspect institutions, their faculty and teaching programmes for nurses and midwives, and give permissions to new institutes. The board can impose a penalty or withdraw admissions from the college if it flouts any norms.
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