National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill 2020, passed by Rajya Sabha.Ability India
Rajya Sabha on 16 March passed a Bill which seeks to provide for regulation and maintenance of standards of education and services by allied and healthcare professionals, “The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020” . Replying to a debate on the Bill, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said that the legislation is aimed at fulfilling long-pending demands for the sector, and will create an institutional structure to enhance employability. “We acknowledge that there is a global demand. And, the Bill will benefit 8-9 lakh existing allied and healthcare professionals. This manpower will also be more ready to cater to global shortage…demand that is projected to be 1.80 crore by 2030 as per the WHO global workforce report,” he said.
The Bill provides for regulation and maintenance of standards of education and services by allied and healthcare professionals, assessment of institutions, maintenance of a central and a state register and creation of a system to improve research and development and adoption of latest scientific advancement. The allied and healthcare professions include a wide range of workers for diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic diseases. These professions also work to optimise patient outcomes and attend to overall prevention, promotion, wellness and management of diseases. As per the statement of objects and the reasons of the Bill, the advancement in the health sector, changing preferences of consumers and service providers, had warranted creation of a fresh vision of healthcare delivery with a patient-centric approach and focus on moving to a multi-disciplinary team-based care.
“This has necessitated the need to implement new ways of deploying health workers, strengthening the workforce by task-shifting models and improving access to quality services through qualified and competent allied and healthcare professionals,” it added. Earlier in December 2018, the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018, was introduced in Rajya Sabha and the same was referred to the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee, which after a detailed examination recommended certain amendments. Therefore, it was withdrawn and a new Bill called the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020, incorporating the recommendations made by the panel, was introduced last year. Vardhan said that of the 110 recommendations made by a parliamentary committee on it, the government accepted 102 while six recommendations were accepted with slight modifications. Only two recommendations were not incorporated.
Here are the definitions and summary of this new bill.
- Allied health professional: The Bill defines ‘allied health professional’ as an associate, technician, or technologist trained to support the diagnosis and treatment of any illness, disease, injury, or impairment. Such a professional should have obtained a diploma or degree under this Bill. The duration of the degree /diploma should be at least 2,000 hours (over a period of two to four years).
- Healthcare professional: A ‘healthcare professional’ includes a scientist, therapist, or any other professional who studies, advises, researches, supervises, or provides preventive, curative, rehabilitative, therapeutic, or promotional health services. Such a professional should have obtained a degree under this Bill. The duration of the degree should be at least 3,600 hours (over a period of three to six years).
- Allied and healthcare professions: The Bill specifies certain categories of allied and healthcare professions as recognised categories. These are mentioned in the Schedule to the Bill and include life science professionals, trauma and burn care professionals, surgical and anaesthesia related technology professionals, physiotherapists, and nutrition science professionals. The central government may amend this Schedule after consultation with the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Profession.
- National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions: The Bill sets up the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions. The Commission will consist of: (i) the Chairperson, (ii) Vice-Chairperson, (iii) five members (at the level of Joint Secretary) representing various Departments/ Ministries of the central government, (iv) one representative from the Directorate General of Health Services, (v) three Deputy Directors or Medical Superintendents appointed on a rotational basis from amongst medical institutions including the AIIMS, Delhi and AIIPMR, Mumbai, and (vi) 12 part-time members representing State Councils, among others.
- Functions of the Commission: The Commission will perform the following functions with regard to Allied and Healthcare professionals: (i) framing policies and standards for regulating education and practice, (ii) creating and maintaining an online Central Register of all registered professionals, (iii) providing basic standards of education, courses, curriculum, staff qualifications, examination, training, maximum fee payable for various categories, and (iv) providing for a uniform entrance and exit examination, among others.
- Professional Councils: The Commission will constitute a Professional Council for every recognised category of allied and healthcare professions. The Professional Council will consist of a president and four to 24 members, representing each profession in the recognised category. The Commission may delegate any of its functions to this Council.
- State Councils: Within six months from the passage of the Bill, state governments will constitute State Allied and Healthcare Councils. The State Councils will consist of: (i) the Chairperson (at least 25 years of experience in the field of allied and healthcare science), (ii) one member representing medical sciences in the state government, (iii) two members representing state medical colleges, (iv) two members representing charitable institutions, and (v) two members from each of the recognised categories of allied and healthcare professions, nominated by the state government, among others. The State Councils will: (i) enforce professional conduct and code of ethics to be observed by allied healthcare professionals, (ii) maintain respective State Registers, (iii) inspect allied and healthcare institutions, and (iv) ensure uniform entry and exit examinations.
- Establishment of institutions: Prior permission of the State Council will be required to: (i) establish a new institution, or (ii) open new courses, increase the admission capacity, or admit a new batch of students to existing institutions. If such permission is not sought, then any qualification granted to a student from such an institution will not be recognised under the Bill.
- Offences and penalties: No person is allowed to practice as a qualified allied and healthcare practitioner other than those enrolled in a State Register or the National Register. Any person who contravenes this provision will be punished with a fine of Rs 50,000.