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Government Tweaks NMC Draft To Allow Patients to Appeal

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Rema Nagarajan    04 January 2023

On December 29, the health ministry put out a draft for amending the National Medical Commission Act. The draft sought to modify the act and allow patients to appeal against the state medical council.

 

In October 2021, the NMC rejected a large number of appeals from patients and decided that only appeals filed by doctors would be taken up by the EMBR, citing Section 30(3) of the Act. They stated that patients will not be allowed to file appeals before the committee and board.

 

As a result, Dr. KV Babu, an ophthalmologist, and RTI activist argued that the right of patients to appeal against decisions of state medical councils was given by the Supreme Court. Hence, the right cannot be taken away by the NMC. He criticized the new rule and stated that the regulators are meant to regulate the profession in the public interest, not the public interest of the professionals. He pointed out that the NMC Act stated that "the rules and regulations made under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, shall continue to be in force and operate till new standards or requirements are specified under this Act or the rules and regulations made thereunder." Hence, the decision made by the NMC disallowing appeals by non-doctors is illegal.

 

The new amendment includes a provision for patients, their relatives, or any complainant to appeal to the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB) or the NMC against the decision or action of state medical councils in complaints related to medical negligence or professional misconduct. The ministry has given the public and other stakeholders 30 days to offer recommendations, remarks, or voice opposition to the proposed changes.

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