The Union Cabinet approved on Thursday a draft bill for the establishment of national and state-level councils for regulation and standardisation of education and services provided by allied healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists and nutritionists.
The Union Cabinet approved on Thursday a draft bill for the establishment of national and state-level councils for regulation and standardisation of education and services provided by allied healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists and nutritionists. Currently, allied and healthcare professionals remain unidentified, unregulated and under-utilised, the statement added. Health Minister J P Nadda said he is grateful to the prime minister for approving a landmark legislation — the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill — which will provide employment opportunities to millions of youths in the country and will help standardise allied healthcare.
“Our system is highly focused on efforts towards strengthening limited categories of professionals such as doctors, nurses and frontline workers (like accredited social health activist or ASHAs, Auxiliary Nurse Midwife or ANMs). “However, numerous others have been identified over the years, whose potential can be utilised to improve and increase the access to quality driven services in the rural and hard to reach areas,” it stated. Nadda said the central and state-allied and healthcare councils will cover 15 major professional categories, including 53 professions in allied and healthcare streams. Offences and penalties clauses have been included in the bill to check malpractices. He said professional advisory bodies under the central and state councils will examine issues in detail and provide recommendations relating to specific recognised categories.
Nadda stated that this legislation will bring all existing allied and healthcare professionals on board within a few years from the date of establishment of the council. “This will provide an opportunity to create qualified, highly skilled and competent manpower in healthcare and enable professionalism of the allied and healthcare workforce. This will pave the way for high-quality multi-disciplinary care in line with the vision of Ayushman Bharat,” he said.
Reiterating the government’s commitment to strengthen healthcare services, Nadda said allied and healthcare professionals constitute an important element of the health human resource network, and that skilled and efficient professionals can reduce the cost of care and dramatically improve the accessibility to quality driven healthcare services. The Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 provides for structure, constitution, composition and functions of the central council and state councils like framing policies and standards, regulation of professional conduct, creation and maintenance of live registers, provisions for common entry and exit examinations among others, the statement said. The central council will comprise 47 members, of whom 14 shall be ex-officio members representing diverse and related roles and functions and remaining 33 shall be non-ex-officio members who mainly represent the 15 professional categories, the statement said.
The state councils are also envisioned to mirror the central council, comprising seven ex-officio and 21 non-ex-officio members, and chairperson to be elected from amongst the non-ex-officio members. Professional advisory bodies under central and state councils will examine issues independently and provide recommendations relating to specific recognised categories.
The bill will also have an overriding effect on any other existing law for any of the covered professions. The state council will undertake recognition of allied and healthcare institutions. The bill also empowers the central and state governments to make rules. An interim council will be constituted within six months of passing of the Act holding charge for a period of two years until the establishment of the central council, the statement said.
It is estimated that the proposed legislation will directly benefit around 8-9 lakh existing allied and healthcare professionals in the country and several other graduating professionals joining the workforce annually and contributing to the health system.