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Cabinet Clears Medical Commission Bill

A Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today cleared an ambitious Bill replacing India’s apex medical education regulator, the Medical Council of India, with a new and transparent body called the National Medical Commission (NMC).

The National Medical Commission Bill 2017 seeks to revolutionize the sector in many ways and proposes for the first time an exit exam for MBBS graduates who would have to clear this test to get practicing licences. There is no cap proposed on how many times a graduate can take the exam.

The Bill further proposes to end MCI-style annual inspections of colleges and will leave medical colleges free to add MBBS and PG seats after prescribing minimum standards expected of institutions. “The institutions will be required to show compliance on their websites as the Bill seeks to move away from the process and infrastructure-based monitoring of medical colleges to an outcome-based monitoring by way of the MBBS exit exam. This exit test will serve the purpose of actual inspection. If a college is not teaching well, its MBBS graduates will fail the exit test and must reappear by improving their standards. For the first time in history, the outcome of the medical graduates will be tested and automatically the quality of the college the graduates are attending,” the concept note of the Bill says.

This means medical education sector will open up rapidly with major incentive for private investors to set up more institutions with many more MBBS and PG seats in near future and reduced cost of healthcare in far future.

It is reliably learnt that medical colleges won’t need recurring renewals as was required under MCI regime. Number of inspections will reduce, drastically hitting at the root of medical corruption. The Bill also gives powers to NMC to regulate fees in 40 per cent of the seats in private medical colleges. This is to ensure equitable availability of medical education. The MCI under Indian Medical Council Act of 1956 never had fee-regulation powers.

The MBBS exit exam will serve two more purposes—entrance exam for PG admissions and foreign medical graduate exam. “Anyone wanting to practise in India, whether holding an Indian or foreign medical UG degree, would have to clear the exit exam,” the Bill says. The NMC Bill says the exit exam must be rolled out within three years of notification of the NMC Act. The Bill will be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament and faced tremendous resistance from politicians since it was first conceived. A Group of Ministers earlier approved it.