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Docs in a spot!

Imagine the plight of a doctor, who is registered with the Medical Council of India (MCI) on a life membership but suddenly finds out that to practice in his Home state of Maharashtra, he need to renew his license every five years with the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC), which does not accept the accreditation of the national body!

Caught in the crossfire between the MCI and the MMC doctors are in a quandary about which rulebook to follow. The irony, according to practising doctors who spoke to SUNDAY MiD DAY, on condition of anonymity, is that many states still do not have their own Medical Council and therefore follow the MCI guidelines, whereas states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab and others have their own medical councils where rules vary.

Also, doctors say the concept of a Continuing Medical Education (CME) programme to ensure a license to practice can be renewed, is confusing. While MCI states that it is not mandatory to have CME attendance, state councils insist that CME programmes are a must and each registered doctor should earn minimum 30 points in a five-year period, failing which a nominal penalty has to be paid at the time of renewal of license.

Medical experts who spoke to SMD argued that this was an absurd norm. Citing an example, a professor said, “If a 65-years-old doctor is practicing in rural Maharashtra, how can he attend CME programmes to get his 30 points, when most CME programmes are held in major cities?” a doctor asked.

A professor and head of medicine department attached to a reputed government-run medical college said, “The need of the hour is to have uniformity across all councils under one governing agency. The MCI, which once used to be a 120-member body, today has just six-member associations. Such confusion will only worsen the problem in coming years, as nearly 3,500 MBBS students graduate out from various medical colleges in Maharashtra each year.”

Another professor pointed out that while most of the state councils that were formed, had referred to the guidelines given by MCI, there is confusion within the MCI guidelines.

In 2009, the Punjab Medical Council had cited a letter from MCI (dated 2-1-1998, copy with SMD) stating compulsory medical programmes as well as renewal of registration of medical practitioner every five year. But in a response to a query raised by Dr K Ravindra Prasad (dated August 24, 2009) then Secretary Lt Col (retd) Dr ARN Setalvad, stated the matter pertaining to renewal of registration and CME programme was pending before the Central Government.

Sanjay Shrivastava, Secretary Medical Council of India, said, “I am travelling and won’t be able to speak on the issue at this point.” Dr Shivkumar Utture, Executive Committee Member, Maharashtra Medical Council said, “There has to be some common ground between the MCI and the State Medical Councils so that there is no ambiguity.”

Utture further added that though the MMC did not exist between 1998 to 2010, when the new council took charge in 2010, the renewal of registration happened in 2012. It showed that out of over one lakh registered medical practitioners only about 65,000 doctors had renewed their license.

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