Amid concerns that the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, which will overhaul the medical education regulatory structure, may not see the light of day during the tenure of the present government, former Union minister and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh has written to Health Minister J P Nadda and asked him to convene an all-party meeting to iron out contentious issues is the Bill.
As per provisions of the Bill, the NMC will replace MCI as the apex body for regulation of medical education.
The Bill provides for constitution of a commission by that name to replace the elected MCI. Four boards — dealing with undergraduate, postgraduate medical education, medical assessment and rating board and the ethics and medical registration board — will regulate the sector.
The Bill was listed for consideration and passing during the Monsoon Session, but could not be taken up. The delay has led to speculation it may not longer be on the list of the government’s priorities as it prepares for 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Bill has already undergone scrutiny through a standing committee where many of the controversial provisions have been removed.
With the Winter Session being the last full Parliament session of the NDA government in its current term, there are concerns that he NMC Bill may not be passed before the next government takes charge; if at all.
In his letter, Ramesh has found fault with recommendations of the standing committee. “I find that the amended Bill retains the stranglehold and domination of the Centre in the NMC. It is now proposed to be a 26-member body with 15 to be nominated by the Centre, 6 to represent state governments, and 5 to be elected from the medical profession. This improves the representation of states, but falls woefully short of achieving a fair balance,” he wrote.
The Parliamentary standing committee for health and family welfare has already recommended that the two most controversial provisions of the Bill – a bridge course for Ayush practitioners to practice allopathic medicine and an exit exam for doctors – should be dropped from the National Medical Commission Bill. The committee recommended that instead of a separate licentiate examination for doctors, as proposed in the bill, the final MBBS examination should be the designated exit exam. Ramesh in his letter welcomed the dropping of the bridge course.
He said that had the Bill been taken up in the Rajya Sabha he would have moved amendments as the council of states could not but have resisted the Bill that forces states to play a secondary role in the NMC.