The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has strongly objected to the draft National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill 2017, which was presented in the Lok Sabha on December 29 and will be discussed on January 2. The IMA has announced a nationwide strike between 6 am and 6 pm on January 2 as protest against the Bill, former president of IMA Dr Avinash Bhondwe said.
As the strike has the potential to adversely affect the functioning of government hospitals, the Union Health Ministry has issued an advisory, asking the facilities to ensure smooth running of services. “It has come to the notice that the Indian Medical Association (IMA) would be on one day strike on 2.1.2018…. Since the strike may involve a large number of medical professionals, and it is anticipated that there would be inconvenience to patient care services in hospitals… it is requested that all necessary measures may be taken to ensure that patient health care and patient services are run smoothly,” said the Centre’s advisory.
The Bill in its present form was unacceptable and the IMA action committee has declared a “black day” on January 2, said Dr S S Utture, president of the Maharashtra Medical Council.
“This Bill is anti-poor, anti-people, non-representative, undemocratic and anti-federal in character,” Dr Utture said, adding that the IMA medical students’ network has already declared a strike on January 2.
There are hidden agendas in the proposed Bill, a section of IMA doctors said. According to Section 26(1)(b) of the Bill, permission to start medical colleges/PG/superspeciality courses or increase seats in MBBS/PG/superspeciality courses will be directly granted by the Medical Assessment and Rating Board, which will have three members nominated by the central government.
As per Section 33(1)(d), the NMC can permit a medical professional to perform surgery or practise medicine without qualifying the National Licentiate Examination, in circumstances that may be specified in regulations. Utture said such sweeping powers are illegal and will give scope for manipulation.
As per Section 55(2)(zl) of the NMC Bill, the Ethics and Medical Registration Board can maintain a separate national register that would have the names of licensed AYUSH practitioners. The names of graduates of Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery and Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery are already registered with their respective councils and on taking the bridge course they would be incorporated in a separate register maintained by the NMC, resulting in dual registration with two councils, which is neither open nor permissible, Utture said.
“The disciplinary jurisdiction on such persons with reference to breach of ethics is not indicated in the proposed Bill as they have dual registrations to their credit. As such these are floodgates that have been opened up in terms of the statutory provisions for backdoor entry into medical profession entitling practicing modern medicine,” Utture said in a statement issued on Monday.—With inputs from ENS Delhi