The Union Cabinet has cleared the National Medical Commission Bill, which does away with the Medical Council of India (MCI) and replaces it with a regulator that will do away with “heavy-handed regulatory control” over medical institutions and will also bring in a national licentiate examination.
Key features of the 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.
The Medical Council of India was first established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933. This Act was repealed and replaced with a new Act in 1956. Under the 1956 Act, the objectives of MCI include:
- Maintenance of standards in medical education through curriculum guidelines, inspections and permissions to start colleges, courses or increasing number of seats.
- Recognition of medical qualifications.
- Registration of doctors and maintenance of the All India Medical Register.
- Regulation of the medical profession by prescribing a code of conduct and taking action against erring doctors.