New Delhi: While many corporate hospitals and private diagnostic laboratories in the country have Medical M.Sc. postgraduates interpreting and signing laboratory test reports, the Clinical Establishments (Central Government) Rules make it mandatory that all diagnostic laboratories should have doctors (registered with MCI or State Medical Council) to do the task. The implementation of these rules in two States recently—Rajasthan and Jharkhand—is making postgraduates jittery across the country. There is widespread resentment among Medical M.Sc. postgraduates, whose grouse is that hundreds of them will either lose jobs or be demoted to the role of laboratory technicians if the new rules are implemented by all State governments. However, the Union Health Ministry is firm on its stand.
The Union government enacted The Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010, to register and regulate all clinical establishments. Subsequently, the National Council for Clinical Establishments was set up and The Clinical Establishments (Central Government) Rules were notified in 2012.
While ten States and six Union Territories, except Delhi, adopted the rules, they are being implemented only in Rajasthan and Jharkhand. As health is a State subject, the decision to adopt and implement the Act rests with the State governments. Although the National M.Sc. Medical Teachers’ Association (NMMTA) has opposed the rules and written to all authorities concerned, including Union Health Minister J P Nadda, to reconsider the rules, it has been in vain.
Mr Sridhar Rao, NMMTA president, mentioned, “NMMTA protests this unjust exclusion and demands that the National Council for Clinical Establishment modifies its guidelines to accommodate medical M.Sc degree (irrespective of Ph.D) as a qualification to interpret and sign diagnostic test reports in Microbiology and Biochemistry. Since medical M.Sc is included in the first schedule of Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, the health ministry is implored that medical M.Sc degree holders be registered in the central or state medical councils. Laboratory testing services are not the practice of medicine, therefore health ministry must not restrict the role of interpretation & signing laboratory reports to doctors only”.
“Students also learn about the physiological functions of body, the disease process and the various parameters in health and disease, which enable them to interpret the diagnostic tests,” Dr Rao said, urging the government to set right the anomaly.
Arjun Maitra, Secretary,National M.Sc. Medical Teachers’ Association (NMMTA) said Medical M.Sc. is a postgraduate degree offered in medical colleges recognised by the MCI and awarded under the faculty of medicine by the university. “The students are also trained in all aspects of clinical diagnostics, including specimen collection, processing, quality control, and interpretation of results,” he said.
He added” Medical Council of India in 2005 has clarified that M.Sc. (Medical Biochemistry) with or without Ph.D is entitled to independently or solely sign a medical Biochemistry report in a clinical laboratory and National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories has recognized M.Sc degree holders as signatories for laboratory reports”.
National M.Sc Medical Teachers’ Association (NMMTA) is a registered association of persons possessing medical M.Sc degrees in the subjects of Anatomy, Biochemistry, Physiology, Pharmacology or Microbiology obtained under the faculty of medicine from MCI-recognized medical colleges.
Medical M.Sc degrees holders have tested, interpreted and issued test reports with signatures all along. In medical colleges, they also impart training to postgraduate students in the principles of diagnostic Biochemistry and Microbiology. Having served and trained so long, now these persons stand to be kept out of the laboratory due to the arbitrary and discriminating guidelines of the CEA. If and when these guidelines are adopted by the states and enforced, hundreds of qualified microbiologists and biochemists with medical M.Sc degree would either lose their jobs or be humiliatingly kept away from diagnostic laboratories. By permitting the conduct of medical M.Sc courses, creating a qualified & trained workforce and then denying them the requisite roles, the government is doing gross injustice. It is due to the misplaced policies such as these that the brain-drain of medical scientists is an ongoing process.