The National Medical Commission Bill, 2017

Highlights of the Bill

  • The Bill sets up the National Medical Commission (NMC).  The NMC will regulate medical education and practice.  It will determine fees for up to 40% seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities.
  • The NMC will consist of 25 members.  A Search Committee will recommend names to the central government for the post of Chairperson, and the part time members. 
  • Four autonomous Boards have been set up under the supervision of the NMC.  These Boards will focus on undergraduate and postgraduate medical education, assessment and rating, and ethical conduct.
  • There will be a National Licentiate Examination for doctors to obtain a licence to practice after graduation.  This examination will also be the basis for admission to post-graduate medical courses.
  • State Medical Councils will receive complaints relating to professional or ethical misconduct against a doctor.  If the doctor is aggrieved of a decision of the State Medical Council, he may appeal to successively higher levels of authority. 

Key Issues and Analysis

  • Two-thirds of the members in the NMC are medical practitioners.  Expert committees have recommended that the regulator should consist of more diverse stakeholders in order to reduce the influence of medical practitioners in regulating medical education and practice. 
  • The NMC will determine fees for up to 40% of the seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities.  There have been various arguments on fee capping by experts.  It has been recommended by some experts that fees should be capped to enable access to medical education for all.  On the other hand, it has also been suggested that fee capping would discourage entry of private colleges.
  • In cases of professional or ethical misconduct by medical practitioners, the practitioners can appeal a decision of the NMC to the central government.  It is unclear why the central government, and not a judicial body, is the appellate authority.
  • There is no requirement for periodic renewal of the licence to practice.  Some countries require periodic testing to ensure that practitioners remain up to date, fit to practice, and give good care to patients.
  • The Bill proposes a bridge course for practitioners of AYUSH to enable them to prescribe modern medicines.  There are differing views on this provision.  While some emphasise the need for greater integration between traditional and modern schools of medicine, others consider this step harmful for the independent development of AYUSH.

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