The outpatient departments, or OPDs, in most state-run hospitals in West Bengal and Telangana remained closed on Wednesday as doctors stayed away from providing non-essential services for a day in solidarity with the Indian Medical Association’s protest against the passage of the National Medical Commission Bill in Parliament, PTI reported. Emergency services and other departments, however, remained open.

Doctors in outpatient departments across government hospitals in Kolkata, Murshidabad and Hooghly stayed off duty even as patients waited for treatment. In Telangana, about 16,000 doctors and more than 10,000 medical students participated in various forms of protests across the state, said the Indian Medical Association’s Telangana Secretary Sanjeev Singh Yadav.

“Barring a few corporate hospitals, doctors in all hospitals, including in the government, participated in the strike,” Singh added. “There was no disruption of emergency services and inpatient treatment.”

The bill has provisions to regulate medical education and practices in India. It seeks to replace Medical Council of India, the regulatory body for medical education in the country, with National Medical Commission, and introduce a common final year MBBS examination – the national exit test – for admission to postgraduate medical courses and for obtaining licence to practise medicine.

“Section 32 of the NMC Bill provides for licensing of 3.5 lakh unqualified non-medical persons to practise modern medicine,” Secretary General of the Indian Medical Association RV Asokan had said on Tuesday. “The term ‘community health provider’ has been vaguely defined to allow anyone connected with modern medicine to get registered in the NMC [National Medical Commission] and be licensed to practise modern medicine.”

The medical body believes the law will encourage quackery, and is anguished that the government did not include key recommendations made by a parliament standing committee. The IMA has termed the bill “anti-poor, anti-student and undemocratic”.