New Delhi: The proposed National Medical Commission Bill seems to be encountering inordinate delays on its journey towards promulgation through the house of the Parliament, to become a law. The recent meeting of the Group of Ministers’ took place last week led by the Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley consisted of cabinet ministers’ like the Health Minister Mr. J P Nadda and the Science & Technology Minister Mr. Harshvardhan. It is reported that the GoM has asked the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Niti Aayog to look at “International evidence” and make “appropriate” changes in the draft Bill.
While the matter is indeed pending with the group of Ministers ( GoM) since the month of March, a recent report in Asian Age stated that the move of referring to the GoM is itself viewed as a delaying tactic by many.
While the NEXT exam appears to be the obvious bone of contention with the bill, another issue, namely the matter of “elected versus selected representatives” has now emerged as a matter of concern.
The current structure of the Medical Council of India, sees dominance of members who are elected from various institutions ( medical colleges, state councils, etc) to constitute the council. In the proposed National Medical Commission, there would be pre-dominance of selected members in the form as:
The Commission shall comprise a Chairperson, a Member Secretary, 8 ex- officio members and 10 part time members.Of the ex-officio members, four shall be the Presidents of the Boards constituted under this Act; and the remaining four shall be nominees–one each of the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Pharmaceuticals and Human Resources Development and one of the Director General of Health Services. Of the part-time members, five shall be persons to be appointed by the Central Government from diverse backgrounds including management, economics, law, consumer or patient rights advocacy, health research, science and technology. The remaining five part-time members shall be from amongst the nominees of the States and Union Territories in the Medical Advisory Council, who shall be appointed on a rotational basis for two-year terms by the Central Government in the manner prescribed.
While many have argued for the structure of elected representatives in the proposed body, Asian Age reports that that if the suggestion of having “elected representatives” in the proposed NMC is accepted, then the new body may become quite like the MCI, which faced allegations of a set coterie of representatives getting elected repeatedly and calling the shots.
With a major hue and cry regarding the bill since Niti Aayog first made its draft public, it is reported that the PMO had forwarded the proposed Bill to GoM to study the blueprint and reach out a consensus between all the stakeholders.
The daily goes on to add that ministerial panel is learnt to have suggested inclusion of “elected representatives” in the proposed body. However, it is not clear, what is meant by ” Elected Representatives”. It can mean elected representation from Parliamentarians, but can also mean elected representatives from doctors association
“The Nursing council of India too has elected representatives, i.e. a member of Parliament from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. We will have to wait and watch what the GoM means by inclusion of representatives in the commission,” sources pointed out.
Yet Skeptics have also noted that changes recommended by the GoM look “doubtful” and will lead to an “unnecessary” delay.
“It seems that the changes have been suggested to put the draft in the loop from where it can never come out. The Parliamentary standing committee report quoted extensively about the core functions of General Medical Council of UK. What more International evidence is needed,” a source asked, speaking to Asian Age.