Last year, a parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare tabled a report which exposed the scam-infested Medical Council of India, the country’s sole medical regulatory body.
As per the report alleged, the MCI had become a “club” of influential doctors who perform their roles as regulators (approving the setting up of medical colleges and monitoring conduct of doctors) with little care for the basic norms of governance or fear of regulation.
It was a damning indictment of a body, which the report stated had failed in discharging its duties of maintaining proper standards in health care. Among a host of accusations, the report detailed how corruption and bribery thrived in approvals for setting up these medical institutions, and further down the line even in the inspection process.
All this may change, as the Union Cabinet on Friday gave its approval to the national medical commission (NMC) bill.
This step aims to replace the MCI with a regulator that will do away with “heavy-handed regulatory control” (red tape) over medical institutions and increase transparency, reports the Times of India.
Here are a few features of this new bill:
1) The government, under the National Medical Commission (NMC), can dictate guidelines for fees up to 40% of seats in private medical colleges. This is aimed at giving students relief from the exorbitant fees charged by these colleges and is a standout feature of the bill.
2) The bill also has a provision for a common entrance exam and licentiate (exit) exam that medical graduates have to pass before practising or pursuing PG courses. For MBBS, students have to clear NEET, and before they step into practice, they must pass the exit exam.
3) Recognised medical institutions don’t need the regulator’s permission to add more seats or start PG course. This mechanism to reduce the discretionary powers of the regulator.
4) Fewer elected members to the new commission.
5) Earlier, medical colleges required the MCI’s approval for establishment, recognition, renewal of the yearly permission or recognition of degrees, and even increase the number of students they admitted. Under the new bill, the powers of the regulator are reduced to establishment and recognition. This means less red tape, but also less scrutiny of medical colleges.