Cabinet approves amendments to NMC Bill

New Delhi [India]: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved certain amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill.

The amendments were made after consideration in the Lok Sabha on January 2 this year and it subsequently being referred to the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee (DRPSC), an official statement read.

The Centre considered the recommendations after a DRPSC report was tabled in the House on March 20 and general feedback, particularly the views of medical students and practitioners regarding certain provisions of the Bill.

The amendments in the bill include final MBBS examination to be held as a common exam across India and would serve as an exit test called the National Exit Test (NEXT), which means the students would not have to appear for a separate exam after MBBS to get a license to practice.

NEXT would also serve as the screening test for doctors with foreign medical qualifications to practice in India.

The amendments also remove the provision dealing with bridge course for AYUSH practitioners to practice modern medicine to a limited, and also address the fee regulation issue for 50 percent seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities.

According to the new amendment, the maximum limit of 40 percent seats for which fee would be regulated in private medical institutions and deemed universities has been increased to 50 percent. The fee would also include all other charges taken by the colleges, the statement clarified.

Responding to the demands from states to increase their representation in the NMC, the nominees of states and Union Territories have been increased from three to six. The NMC will now comprise of 25 members of which 21 will be doctors.

The Cabinet approval also replaced the clause of the monetary penalty with a provision which provides different options for a warning, reasonable monetary penalty, reducing intake, stoppage of admission leading up to the withdrawal of recognition.

The wide range of monetary penalty, ranging from one half to ten times the annual fee recovered from a batch, was one of the major concern while approving the amendments.

Stringent punishment for unqualified medical practitioners or quacks have been approved as the central government is concerned about the quality and safety of healthcare being made available to the citizens and the need to act strictly against unqualified practitioners.

The punishment for any unauthorised practice of medicine has been upgraded by including a provision for the imprisonment of up to one year along with a fine extending up to Rs 5 lakh.(ANI)