The Indian medical system has been facing flak over a variety of reasons for last few years including policy paralysis, corruption and what not.
Taking cognizance, the Union Cabinet has approved the National Medical Commission Bill, 2017 (Bill) – this legislation will replace the existing Medical Council Act, 1956 and is expected to bring about rare reforms in the Indian medical system. The most crucial objective for this legislation is to restructure and re-establish the Indian medical system - the administration of Medical Council of India (MCI) has got utterly paralyzed as it was controlled by doctors and officials who got the proven history of corruption and bribery.
Due to the administration by such doctors and officials, the MCI failed spectacularly to discharge its basic duties which resulted in worsening the health care standards in the country and failure to sustain the proper execution of basic norms of governance or fear of regulation.
Government has introduced the Bill with the intent of substituting the MCI with a Medical Commission – the government will have direct control over the medical authority. However, this Bill is opposed by Indian Medical Association on the ground that administration of medical authority by non-medicos is no solution to exterminate the evils prevailing for cleansing the Indian medical system.
Some key changes to be brought about in the system are as follows:
· Introduction of exit exam for MBBS graduates - one will get the license for practice after clearing the exam only, as of now no limit is specified on number of attempts to take the test.
· Putting an end to the practice of conducting inspections of colleges and periodic renewals. Instead medical care standards and quality of education of the colleges will be evaluated based on the academic excellence of its students in MBBS exit exam.
· Grant of authority to colleges to increase seats or introduction of post-graduate courses without the permission of regulatory authority provided such colleges meet the minimum standards as prescribed.
· Medical commission will be constituted with government-nominated chairman and members as selected by a search committee under the Cabinet Secretary.
· Composition of four autonomous boards delegated with:
ü Conducting undergraduate and postgraduate education.
ü Assessment and accreditation of medical institutions.
ü Registration of practitioners under the National Medical Commission (NMC).
Government’s intent to cleanse the medical system with drastic reforms in the medical laws is a welcome measure. However, government needs to be aware of granting certain autonomous rights to the colleges and evaluation of medical college standards purely based on the outcome of MBBS exit exam – these measures can prove to be disastrous and counterproductive at times.
The government seeks to achieve a balance between the interests of medical professionals and general public health – for this examination of the objections raised and suggestions received from all the stakeholders have been taken into account. The overall objective is to improve health care standards of Indians and produce qualified doctors.
Research and inputs by Paruchuri Bawanth Mohan
About the author :
Bhumesh Verma is a lawyer with over 2 decades of experience in advising domestic and international clients on corporate transactions (M&A, Venture Capital, Private Equity, Startups, corporate advisory, etc.) and features in "The A-List - India's Top 100 Lawyers" by India Business Law Journal. He keeps writing frequently on FDI, M&A and other corporate matters and is a guest faculty as well. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.