The decision to scrap National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for MBBS students seeking to secure post-graduate seats will take another three years to implement, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told a press conference here on Thursday.

After announcing that NEET-PG will be scrapped, the Ministry had said that there would be a common national exam for all MBBS students — the National Exit Test (NEXT) “We will take three years to figure out the nitty gritty of NEXT implementation, till then the NEET-PG exam will continue,” said Harsh Vardhan.

He said that the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, pending for five years, has finally received the President’s nod. “It will be notified soon, and will be called the National Medical Commission Act,” he said.

The NMC will be an overarching body of four autonomous boards — UG and PG education; Medical Assessment and Rating; and Ethics and Medical Registration.

“We have to figure out how to appoint the NMC President, what will his post be equivalent to – a cabinet secretary and so on,” said Health Secretary Preeti Sudan.

Nearly 50 per cent of all the MBBS seats are in government colleges, which charge a nominal fee. The other 50 per cent seats would be regulated by the NMC. This means that almost 75 per cent of total seats in the country would be available at reasonable fees. “It must be stressed again that not only fees, but all other charges are being regulated,” he said. “We have given States the freedom to sign MoUs with private medical institutes to regulate the rest of the 25 per cent seats.”

Harsh Vardhan also clarified that penalty for quacks has been enhanced from ₹1,000 to ₹5 lakh and one year jail in the NMC Bill.

Sudan said that the proposed bridge course to train Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy practitioners has been scrapped. “A community health practitioners strengthening course has been introduced to equip nurses and so on to be mid-level health workers; however, AYUSH doctors will not be required to take the bridge course.”

Harsh Vardhan said that professionals of highest integrity will be appointed every four years to the NMC and they will not be eligible for any extension. “Also, they will have to declare their assets at the time of appointment and when demitting office...

Harsh Vardhan stated that “There are apprehensions about the NMC being dominated by Central government nominees. This is not true. There will be 10 Vice-Chancellors of State Health Universities and nine elected members of State Medical Councils in the NMC. Thus, 19 of 33 members would be from States... ensuring that the NMC is representative and inclusive.”