Things you should know about National Medical Commission bill

Chennai: Nation wide, doctors and medical students are protesting the National Medical Commission Bill, 2019, that was passed in the Rajya Sabha last week.

The situation is no different closer home, for the students of Stanley Medical College, Madras Medical College and Kilpauk Medical College are a few among the many institutions condemning the bill.

Touted as the bill to replace the ‘corrupt Medical Council of India’, it has stirred the medico fraternity due to several controversial sections and doctors feel that it is against them.

Contrarily, Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, told the press yesterday that the bill benefits medical practitioners and students.

Here is a list of FAQs explaining the salient features:

FEE CAP

Reacting to giving a leeway to private medical institutions to fix fees, a statement from the Ministry said, “In the spirit of federalism, the State governments would still have the liberty to decide the fees for remaining seats in private medical colleges on the basis of individual MoUs signed with colleges on the basis of mutual agreement.”

However, according to Doctors’ Association for Social Equality general secretary, Dr Ravindranath, the move would lead to rise in tuition fees. “Previously, a judicial body regulated the fee charged by colleges, now, it gives the upper hand to private educationists to have a hold on it,” he said.

EXIT EXAM

While there has been severe opposition to the conduct of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) in Tamilnadu, the new bill proposes national licentiate examination – National Exit Examination (NEXT) – for obtaining a licence to practice and the same exam will determine admission for postgraduation.

However, the student community is against it.

A pre-final year student of Stanley Medical College said, “The university conducts an exam to give licence in the the final year and we feel there is no need for another round of exam. With this, total power would be vested in the Central government and the State would have minimal authority. Besides, it increases competition as it is conducted at the all-India level.”

Doctors feel that it fails to test the practical knowledge as the paper would be based on theory.

PROMOTES QUACKERY?

According to the NMC bill, a bridge course would be conducted for AYUSH practitioners to prescribe allopathy medicines and it further states that ‘community health workers’ will be appointed to increase healthcare services in the country.

Ravindranath said, “Even a student who has cleared class 12 can get the tag of community health worker and prescribe first-line medicines. It is a bill that is against doctors themselves.”

Bhavani Prabhakar