The Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to the National Medical Commission Bill. These include strict action against quackery, removing a controversial proposal for a bridge course that would have allowed non-allopathic doctors to practice modern medicine and regulating fees for 50% of the seats at deemed universities.
The National Medical Commission is expected to replace the Medical Council of India as the top medical education regulator in the country. The Cabinet made the amendments after considering the recommendations made by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare on March 20, The Economic Times reported. The bill will now be tabled in Parliament.
“We have kept it the way students wanted,” said Health Secretary Preeti Sudan, according to the Hindustan Times.
While the bill has junked the controversial bridge course, it has retained a plan to conduct the final MBBS examination as a common exam countrywide. This exam will also serve as an exit test called the National Exit Test, or NEXT, which will allow students to get a licence to practice without having to appear in a separate exam after MBBS. NEXT would also serve as the screening test for doctors with foreign medical qualifications to practice in India.
The amendments propose to increase the punishment for unauthorised practice of medicine to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh. The amendments also propose to raise the nominees of states and Union Territories in the commission from three to six members, agreeing to the demand from states to increase their representation.
The bill was referred to the parliamentary standing committee on January 2, after doctors’ associations objected to some of the the clauses in its earlier version.