The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill today got the Presidential assent, paving the way for comprehensive reform of medical education and the long-awaited replacement of Medical Council of India with a new regulator (NMC).

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the NMC would be set up in six months instead of nine as stated in the law and the proposed national exit test would be rolled out in three years.

“The final year MBBS exam will serve as the National Exit Test under the NMC law. It will serve three purposes — licentiate exam for MBBS pass-outs; PG entrance; and entrance test for foreign medical graduates. Once the NMC is set up, it will finalize modalities for the exit test, which will roll out in three years from today. Exit test will be objective type,” Vardhan said.

NEET-PG to run for 3 yrs till exit test under NMC law rolls

This means the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for medical PG exam will continue for three years till the exit test starts.

The exit test, once implemented, will be applicable for entrance to AIIMS, PGI, and other institutions of national importance set up by Acts of Parliament.

Vardhan said the new law would help India achieve the WHO-mandated doctor-patient ratio of 1:1,000 persons in seven years. The ratio today is around 1:1,500.

“Community health workers proposed in the law will serve as mid-level health cadres to look after 1.5 lakh health and wellness centers to come up under Ayushman Bharat Mission. There are needless misgivings about this cadre, which is a worldwide concept approved by the WHO. The US and the UK are using this cadre even today. It will consist of modern medicine professionals who will get limited licenses to prescribe basic medicines once they complete an additional bridge course over and above their own course. This will equip them for a new role and help us tide over doctor shortages in villages,” Vardhan said.

He added that it’s a myth that the law would encourage quackery. “The law provides for Rs5 lakh fine and one year jail for quacks as against Rs1, 000 fine at present,” he said.

On fee regulation, Vardhan said India has 80,000 MBBS seats out of which half are already in government colleges and hence subsidized. “Of the remaining 40,000 seats in private and deemed medical colleges, NMC Bill will enable fee regulation in half. In the remainder seats, state governments can enforce fee regulation by signing MOUs with respective private colleges. The fee cap will be inclusive of all charges. Once NMC law is implemented 75% (40,000 seats in government colleges and 20,000 in private) of all Indian MBBS seats will have fee regulation whereas today there is none,” he said.

He said NMC would frame regulations for exit test in consultation with doctors and other stakeholders.

The new law also provides hefty penalties starting with warnings to the closure of colleges in case of non-compliance with quality standards the NMC will prescribe.

Reforming medical education

Final-year MBBS exam will serve three purposes — licentiate exam for MBBS pass-outs; PG entrance; entrance test for foreign medical graduates

Once implemented, the exit test will be applicable for entrance to AIIMS, PGI and other institutions set up by Acts of Parliament