Signed off as law by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, in 2019, the National Medical Commission Bill, stirred up discussions that questioned the motive behind a sudden change in the governing body that was concerned with medical education in India. Introduced to bring a much needed transparency in the medical education system, the government has passed the bill, making it a hot topic for discussion.

What is the National Medical Commission Bill, 2019?

The proposed National Medical Commission Bill 2019, was set to remodel the whole system of regulations of the medical education in India, replacing the Medical Council of India, as according to the clauses of the bill. Other proposals included in the bill are as follows

  • Qualifying the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) will be mandatory for getting admission in MBBS or any equivalent medical course in any medical college in India including common counseling for all undergraduate and postgraduate super speciality medical education.
  • Unifying the final year MBBS examination and the post graduate entrance examination, called the National Exit Test(NEXT) which will have the functions as:
  1.   MBBS licentiate examination
  2.   Post graduate admission examination for board specialty medical courses.
  3.   Screening exam for foreign medical graduates

• Holding the National Medical Commission responsible for validation and application of NEET, common counseling and NEXT for all Institutes of National Importance (INI), like AIIMS.
• Regulations to be imposed on fees for 50% of private medical college seats.

Functioning of the National Medical Commission

The National Medical Commission is set to function through it’s autonomous bodies, thereby ensuring the optimum functioning of the Indian medical education.

  1. Undergraduate Medical Education Board : To regulate and set standards for undergraduate medical education in India.
  2. Postgraduate Medical Education Board : To regulate and set standards for postgraduate medical education in India.
  3. Medical Assessment and Rating Board : To set up assessment system in medical institutions country wide and to inspect these systems. It has full rights to issue warnings, impose penalties, stop admission and take back recognitions as a result of misconduct or negative feedback. Besides, granting permission to set up new medical institutions, introduce new post graduation courses and to increase the number of seats in institutions are also among their concerns.
  4. Ethics and Registration Board : To maintain a National Register of details pertaining to the licensed medical practitioners in India.

The bill also has put forward the need to regulate the maintenance of websites of all medical institutions in India which would facilitate in easing the access to information by the NMC or any autonomous body. A Medical Advisory Council would be set up to guide the NMC and give timely recommendations so as to improve the quality of medical education in India.

Being a Medical Practitioner under the National Medical Commission

There would be changes introduced to the practicing rights of the existing medical practitioners once the bill has been implemented.

  1. Individuals clearing the National Exit Test (NEXT) would be automatically included in the National Register under the Ethics and Registration Board.
  2. Individuals already registered under the Indian Medical Register as according to the IMC Act of 1956, are also eligible for the automatic inclusion as given above.
  3. However, all foreign medical graduates, who are already licensed practitioners in the country and those who wish to appear for the screening, will have to undergo the National Exit Test (NEXT).
  4. Individuals who are pursuing MBBS before the NMC is implemented is excluded from NEXT and would be included in National Register according to current procedures.

The bill has been passed to the Rajya Sabha with two proposed amendments. With the people still discussing both the sides of the bill, one can only fully understand the effects after it has been implemented properly.