Doctors under one umbrella


The new system, considered part of the E-governance initiative of the MCI, is expected to check the proliferation of quacks.

The Medical Council of India (MCI) has decided to bring medical practitioners in the country under one umbrella with a uniform registration system instead of the existing regional ones. The new system, considered part of the E-governance initiative of the MCI, is expected to check the proliferation of quacks. Dr. Suplhi N. of the Kerala Unit of the Indian Medical Association and Dr.  K.A. Raoof, general secretary of the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association detail the merits and demerits of the new system.

Basically all states have their local registration councils. In Kerala there is the Travancore Cochin Council of Modern Medicine which actually covers the entire state.  The recent announcement of MCI to bring all medical practitioners in the country under a single digital system by issuing a Unique Permanent Registration Number (UPRN), will phase out the state councils. It is a significant step towards checking duplicate registrations, quackery and ensuring regularisation of medical practice and bond discipline. In the existing system, doctors who migrated had to face a host of problems as they had to get fresh registrations in different states. The IMA national leadership has already extended full support for digitising the registry of doctors through UPRN which is similar to Aadhaar. The e-governance initiative has been welcomed widely. It will also be a great relief to doctors practising in different states as they would not require separate licences.

We need comprehensive data on doctors and the number of doctors getting registered  annually. Once this new centralised system is in place, the data will be  at our finger tips.  There are positive implications of the new  system. Through this system, authorities will be able to get the existing strength of doctors. For instance more than 30,000 doctors are registered with the Kerala chapter of IMA but the fact is that the actual number of registered doctors is 60,000 plus. Another problem is that there is no information regarding doctors who have retired from service, gone abroad or expired. Through this nationalised data it would be easy for us to get a clear picture. The linking of registration with Aadhaar cards will also help in getting specific details about doctors; their name, full address and contact details. Quackery is rampant in many parts of the country especially in the North. These quacks often take advantage of the shortage of doctors in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. There have been reports about people manipulating the data available with the Council. They fraudulently obtain the registration numbers of doctors who have expired and carry out practice. It is difficult to detect such frauds in the existing system.

By linking Aadhaar to registration numbers, the authorities will be able to check this malpractice to a great extent. Many young doctors who want to migrate to US, UK or other countries and take up jobs there have to face a host of problems in getting their registrations confirmed. This can be avoided if there is centralised data. At times doctors have to run from pillar to post to get the registration confirmed and they have to visit Trivandrum for this. The other advantage of the new system is that manpower utilisation will be more effective. However, there is no clarity as to how long the entire exercise will take.

(Dr Sulphi N is State Secretary Elect, IMA)

‘Initiative a step in the right direction’

The MCI move to have unified statistical data of doctors registered in the country is a step in the right direction. It will help in accessing the entire data of doctors in a more accurate manner. The uniform registry will provide information about general practitioners, specialists and super specialists. There will be a proper mapping of the spread of doctors of various categories. This would also help planners in the health sector to formulate policies in a more effective manner. Besides, it would bring out the areas which lack specialists or super specialists and help resolve the shortage of doctors.  For a country which is still grappling with extremely low patient doctor ratio, centralised and concrete information on the availability and non availability of doctors, will go a long way in taking corrective measures in health care delivery infrastructure.

But it is going to be a huge task since all the existing registration of doctors will have to be migrated to the uniform centralised system UPRN.  Doctors will have to apply online for additional qualification in registration for a PG super speciality.
The MCI initiative which is part of the Centre’s current digital mission mode project will help in creating a live data base. At the moment the registration of all doctors is manual in each state. All this would be now maintained in the central data base. There will be no need for a doctor to obtain fresh registration when he decides to practice in another state. He would be able to practice anywhere in the country using the same UPRN.

There are no specific studies on the number of existing doctors in the country. With regular updating, one would be able to get the current data in real time once the new system comes into being. More clarity is required on the process of removing the name of doctors from the existing list. There is also ambiguity over the ID number whether it will be new or connected with Aadhaar. There is a need for an effective mechanism to delete names of doctors who have expired and those who have left the country. Under the present system, registration is renewed every five years and provisional registration is given.

Travancore Cochin Council of Modern Medicine had recently carried out a massive exercise compiling almost all data till recent years. All original certificates were examined and holographic certification was also introduced. There is uncertainty over the verification process. We are of the opinion that once the new system comes into being, all registered doctors should be exempted from physical verification of the certificates. If physical verification is made mandatory, then MCI should make arrangements for special sitting in important cities and districts.

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