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Amendment to NMC Act allowing appeals by patients against state medical councils put on hold

New Delhi : An RTI reply filed by Dr K V Babu has revealed that the central government has put on hold its proposal to amend the National Medical Commission (NMC) Act 2019, which allowed patients and their relatives to approach the NMC’s ethics board challenging decisions of the State Medical Councils (SMC) with regards to complaints of medical negligence and misconduct against doctors. It is noteworthy that the government itself had put forth the proposal for the amendment in 2022. The Union Health Ministry had felt the need for provisions for patients to challenge the decisions of the SMCs, as these provisions were not included when the NMC was newly formed in 2020 after the dissolution of the erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI). Thus after NMC was constituted complaints of patients and their relatives against the decision of SMCs have not been taken up by the NMC though MCI had provisions for accommodating the complaints.

Presently, appeals of only doctors who were found guilty of medical negligence by the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB) are taken up by the NMC. Similar claims made by patients or their families are being overlooked. However, the government has failed to act on its own proposal, said Dr KV Babu, who had filed an RTI in this regard in September. “The reply to my query clearly stated that the amendment in the NMC Act has been kept on hold,” he said. “Unfortunately, patients and their relatives’ right to appeal have not been restored,” Babu told this paper.

Clause 8.8 in the NMC Act was added on May 27, 2004, following the Supreme Court directions, which stated, “Any person aggrieved by the decision of the SMC on any complaint against a delinquent physician shall have the right to file an appeal to the MCI within 60 days from the date of receipt of the order passed by the MCI”. The clause was, however, removed when MCI was dissolved and the NMC came into being.

Highlights of RTI reply
Provision for patients to appeal before the NMC against the order of State Medical Councils regarding negligence and misconduct by doctor not existing
Appeal provision existed in MCI
The central government proposed an amendment in NMC Act in 2020 but has failed to act on its own proposal