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What is new medical registration system and why doctors are concerned?

Here is everything you need to know about the new registration policy and why doctors are concerned about it

Medical

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Vasudha Mukherjee New Delhi
The National Medical Commission (NMC) has introduced a new licensing and registration system for doctors in India to continue practicing medicine. The new registry promises a more efficient way to maintain data on practicing doctors in the country, share data with states, and check for unlicensed and unqualified doctors in the country. The portal will also make it easier for the public to check the qualifications of doctors in their area and see who have been blacklisted.

What is the National Medical Commission Act, 2019?

The National Medical Commission Act was introduced in August 2019. The Act aimed to improve access to quality and affordable medical education to ensure that high-quality medical professionals were present in all parts of the country.

It also spoke of a National Medical Register (NMR) that would be maintained by the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB) under section 31 of the Act.

Hints of this registry had already been around for nearly four years and was finally implemented on May 10, 2023.

Doctors now have 90 days to register/renew their licenses on the EMRB. These licenses will be valid for up to five years, after which renewal will be required in an effort to ensure the list of practicing doctors in India is continuously updated.

What is National Medical Register?

The National Medical Register (NMR) is a government-maintained database specifically designed for healthcare professionals, primarily doctors. It serves as an official record of licensed doctors, providing easy access to their information for the public. The NMC is responsible for updating and managing the records in this database.

The NMR contains various details about doctors, including their qualifications, training, areas of specialisation, registration status, and any disciplinary actions taken against them, if at all. It is now mandatory for all doctors to register themselves on the NMR. In the near future, it will be possible to access information about any doctor in the country for consultation purposes.

However, currently, the database only includes information on doctors registered up until 2021 through the State Medical Councils. The data registration for doctors from Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, and Delhi has not yet been updated, but it will be soon and will be available on the website.

The NMC will maintain a unified medical register encompassing all medical practitioners in the country.

Registering on the EMRB portal

According to the NMC, the EMRB portal will generate a Unique Identification (UID) for every doctor. There will be a processing fee for the UID generation and will be payable in favour of the Secretary of NMC.

The guidelines released on May 12, 2023 by the NMC state that the UID will be suffixed with the code of the state or the union territory that the doctor registers themselves with.

This information will be recorded by the NMR and shared with the concerned State Medical Register.

Advantages of the NMC Act

Under the NMC regulation, the data of national and state registries are synced in real time.

Therefore, the NMR won't have to wait for the state councils to update and share their state registries.

Registering every five years will let the center have accurate information regarding the number of doctors practicing state-wise and will improve their ability to plan. It will also provide dates on the number of doctors practicing in public and those practicing in the private sector.

Registration in multiple states makes it difficult to enforce disciplinary action against doctors. If a doctor is suspended by one state council, they can still register with another state and continue to practice using the same registration number.

It will also tackle cases of fraud and identify "doctors" with unrecognised degrees as people can look up a doctor's registration number and check their qualifications on the NMC website under the 'Information Desk' tab.

To add any additional qualifications received, however, doctors need to apply to their State Medical Council and upon approval the data will automatically be added to the National Register. The UID will remain the same.

Concerns by doctors

Most doctors are registered through their respective State Medical Councils, however, the NMC has not given the state commissions power to issue licenses for practicing medicine. This is a big change for doctors who have been practicing for a long time.

The earlier registration systems and guidelines varied from state to state. The renewal system for medical licenses was different among medical councils, with some boards foregoing the need for renewal at all. Furthermore, there are many doctors who fail to comply with their state's renewal policy and continue to practice without this.

The Indian Medical Council Act allowed doctors to register and practice throughout the country. With the new system and the UID attached to the State/Union Territory, there are concerns about whether doctors will be allowed to practice throughout the country or will they be limited to their respective states.

The guidelines mention that the UID will remain the same, while the State/Union Territory code may change with migration, however, this does not make clear if doctors can practice for short term in other states while registered to their own states. While regulations do state that doctors can opt to practice in multiple states, it does not make it clear whether this needs to be declared by the doctor or not.

Indian Medical Council Act, 1956

The medical qualifications granted by any university or medical institution in India are recognised as medical qualifications under the Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act, 1956.

According to the Act, every person whose name is borne in the Indian Medical Register (IMR) is entitled to practice medicine in any part of India. While doctors were required to inform the IMR if they changed their place of practice within 30 days of moving, they did not require any renewal of their license.

 
While the NMC Act aims to create a more centralised system for doctor registration, many regulations are not in tandem with state medical councils. According to media reports, doctors have asked the NMC to revise these regulations to work better with their state mandates. 

 

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First Published: May 23 2023 | 1:42 PM IST

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