| Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi enters the Assembly in Guwahati to present the interim budget for 2014-15 on Thursday. (PTI)
Guwahati, Feb. 13: The Assam Assembly today passed the Assam Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2014, making it mandatory for doctors to renew their licences after every five years on the basis of knowledge update and adherence to medical ethics.
An evaluation system will be eventually evolved by the Srimanta Sankaradeva University of Health Sciences but factors like attending Continuous Medical Education (CME), acquiring higher degrees and any complaint registered against a doctor would be taken into consideration.
The development has come at a time when the state is witnessing an increasing number of cases of alleged ethical misconduct and lack of professionalism by medical practitioners, resulting in poor healthcare service. Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said with the passing of the bill, it would now become mandatory for every medical practitioner registered with the Assam State Medical Council to renew his/her licence every five years with updated academic and professional credentials. To renew the licences, doctors will have to deposit a certain amount of fees to the medical council.
He said the state medical council would award academic credit points, in accordance with guidelines framed by the Medical Council of India (MCI), to registered practitioners for CME.
At present, doctors are supposed to register with the state medical council only once, after getting their degrees. The state medical council forwards the list to the MCI, which incorporates them into the Indian Medical Register.
The amendment bill also stipulates that the president of the state medical council would constitute an ethical committee and if any doctor is found guilty of violating ethics, his/her registration may be withdrawn for a period decided by the panel.
Under the amended legislation, non-Indian doctors with a foreign medical degree, who intend to participate in any training or other programme offering healthcare services, including consultation and surgery, would be provided a temporary registration certificate after their credentials are vetted by the state medical council.
The Opposition welcomed the amendment bill. AGP legislator Keshab Mahanta told the Assembly that the existing ways of regulating the profession were no longer good enough and doctors were “expected to be up-to-date and more accountable”.
He, however, proposed that the licence renewal fees should be half of the original registration fees. Sarma refused to accept the proposal, saying doctors start earning more with greater working experience. “So I rather propose that the renewal fees should be doubled,” he said.
The principal of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, Kabul Chandra Saikia, refused to comment without going through the amendment bill. Its former principal, M.M. Deka, said he had reservations on the issue. “How can doctors serving in the rural and remote areas find time to attend CME? In my opinion, a doctor’s first duty is to serve the people. I am a little confused about how the medical council would assess doctors while renewing their licences. Good and sincere doctors are always busy delivering the best healthcare service to the people,” Deka said.