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Delhi doctors up in arms over National Medical Commission Bill

Describing the NMC Bill as “anti-poor, anti-people” and “against the democratic structure of India”, protesting doctors demanded major changes in this Bill.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

A large number of doctors and MBBS students of many hospitals of Delhi-NCR on Tuesday staged a protest outside AIIMS here against the central government’s proposed National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill.

Describing the NMC Bill as “anti-poor, anti-people” and “against the democratic structure of India”, protesting doctors demanded major changes in this Bill. They also burnt copies of the Bill.

The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Union health minister Harsh Vardhan. It reportedly proposes to regulate the fees and other charges of up to 50 per cent of the total seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also expressed its dissatisfaction with the current form of this Bill.

“There are many clauses of this Bill, which are not acceptable to medicos of India. It proposes National Exit Test (NEXT) as a common final year exam of all 500 medical colleges, both public and private, including AIIMS. On the basis of final year exams, you will get postgraduate (PG) seat. A common final year exam is still fine but combining that exam with PG is unjustified. There are many students who give repeated attempts to join PG of their choice then why force them to face final year practical exams again and again. And undermining the value of 1st, 2nd and 3rd-year subjects are also not appropriate,” said Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, vice-chairperson, IMA Junior Doctor Network.

He raised serious concern over the “management quota” which would increase by more than 50 per cent. “This clause will ruin the dreams of students from lower socio-economic sections. Commercialization of medical education will increase the cost of treatment and ultimately increase household expenditure,” he charged.

Dr Bhatti said the Centre would regulate fees of only “up to 50 per cent” of MBBS seats as per this Bill. In a Supreme Court verdict it was advised to regulate minimum 85 per cent of seats so that children of poor “kisan” and “jawan” can also dream of becoming a doctor, he claimed. But the government “neglected” the apex court’s verdict by making it “up to 50 per cent” only.

“This single clause will open medical education market to rich and privileged people. Now the fees will be so high that you won’t get MBBS degree without investing crores and then for EXIT you again have to pay money to get PG,” Dr Bhatti alleged.

The IMA also expressed its dissatisfaction over the reported proposal of a mid-level practitioner (bridge course) in the Bill.

The IMA said the NMC Bill is allowing “crosspathy” and “allows AYUSH practitioners to practise allopathy”.

“This clause deepens the divide of rich and poor, urban and rural. This clause allows second class treatment of poor rural Indian citizens…by less qualified mid-level practitioners,” the IMA charged.