Implementation of the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Act 2021: A Brief Note
The Government has constituted the Interim Commission.
I keep receiving questions about the implementation of the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Act 2021 (the NCAHP Act 2021). To answer a few of them, I am writing this brief note about its implementation status.
The NCAHP Act 2021, if you do not know about it yet, was passed by Rajya Sabha on March 16, 2021, and by Lok Sabha on March 24, 2021. The Government notified it in the Gazette of India on March 28, 2021, after it received the assent of the President.
The Act, among other things, provides for “regulation and maintenance of standards of education and services by allied and healthcare professionals, assessment of institutions, [and] maintenance of a Central Register and State Register” of professionals. It includes psychologists as “Behavioural Health Sciences Professionals.”
It came into force on May 25, 2021.
On May 27, 2021, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare notified the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Rules, 2021. Some relevant points in the Rules are:
1. The President or member of a Professional Council should have a postgraduate degree in the recognised profession. They should have an experience of not less than fifteen years, out of which at least seven years should be as a leader in the allied and healthcare professions. [Every recognised category under the NCAHP Act has a Professional Council to represent the profession in the Commission.]
2. The Commission will maintain an online Central Allied and Healthcare Professionals Register.
3. The Rules prescribe an application form for the issuance of the certificate of registration to recognized professionals. The registration fee is Rs 2,000/-.
4. The qualifying criteria for permission to establish an allied and healthcare institution stipulate that the institution should be “within the vicinity of a functional medical college or University and has an attached hospital for the purposes of practical exposure and internships to the students.” It remains to be seen how it would affect the already existing departments of psychology.
Section 20 of the NCAHP Act provides for the constitution of an Interim Commission within sixty days from the date of assent of the President until the Government constitutes the regular National Commission.
On August 3, 2021, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare published the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions 1st (Removal of Difficulties) Order, 2021 stating that “due to the second wave of the Covid pandemic in India, the Interim Commission could not be constituted within the stipulated period.” It said that “the Central Government shall, as soon as may be but within six months from the date on which the Act receives the assent of the President, constitute an Interim Commission.” [emphasis supplied]
After that, the Interim Commission was notified by the Government on September 21, 2021. As stipulated by Section 20 of the NCAHP Act, the Interim Commission consists of Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as the Chairperson; one Joint Secretary each from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship; Deputy Director General, Directorate General of Health Services; Member, Ethics and Medical Registration Board, National Medical Commission; Member Secretary, Rehabilitation Council of India; and Head, Directorate of Regulatory Affairs and Communication, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. The Deputy Secretary or Director, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shall be the Secretary of the Interim Commission.
Other than these eleven members, the positions of two professionals representing each of the recognised categories are vacant. These members shall be selected by the Committee formed under Section 16 of the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Rules, 2021. Effective implementation of the Act will begin after the appointment of these members.
Basic Rules under the NCAHP Act 2021 have been framed. The registration fee for the issuance of the registration certificate to recognised professionals is Rs 2,000/-. The Government has appointed some members (all bureaucrats) of the Interim Commission, while the positions of two professionals representing each of the recognised categories are vacant.