New Delhi, July 2 : The Delhi High Court on Thursday suggested the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government to formulate a mechanism wherein healthcare workers including doctors, nurses and paramedical staff can put forth their grievances anonymously against hospitals or nursing homes that fail to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, masks or other safety gears.
The suggestion came during the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which aimed to highlight the "blatant violation of human rights" of the nurses and other health workers deployed in the forefront of private nursing homes or hospitals in Delhi.
The bench said that when someone would complain on the said helpline, the government could inspect the said healthcare institution and meet the requirement of the safety gears including PPE kits and N95 masks.
In its response to the said petition filed by Distress Management Collective, the Centre has clearly stated that issues relating to Public Health and Hospitals are a state subject and hence, the same is "primary" and "exclusive" responsibility of each and every state.
"The Central government is making available PPE kits, N95 masks etc to states/Union Territories as per their requirements," the affidavit stated adding that it is the responsibility of the state to "optimally utilize the same".
The Central government's standing counsel Anil Soni argued before the court that Centre is providing complete assistance to the states but ultimately it is the state which has to do the actual work.
The Delhi government in its response filed through Additional Standing Counsel (ASC) Anupam Srivastava mentioned that it has already issued an order which states that if any person including doctors, nurses, para-medical staff, sweeper or any other staff in both government and private government sector succumbs to death while attending a Coronavirus patient, the kin of the said deceased shall be provided with a compensation of Rs 1 crore.
In response to the prayer of the petitioner regarding psychological support to the healthcare staff, the AAP government responded that psychological counselling services are being given to the frontline workers Recently, the Delhi government launched a facility called "Samvaad" in tie up with Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) where proper counselling would be provided to the front line workers if they are in stress and need help.
With regard to the prayers regarding uploading of the data relating to collection data of all private hospitals and nursing homes, and to come out with details of the nurses and doctors infected and being treated, while the Centre stated that "it would not be possible" as the private hospitals are not in its domain, the Kejriwal government, however, responded that the same is being maintained.
Data pertaining to all infected persons undergoing treatment including nurses and doctors (both government and private) is maintained with the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP)," the affidavit from the Delhi government read.
The plea also states that the health and welfare of the nurses' should be considered paramount, especially during times of such pandemic.
"The virus does not discriminate; and discrimination must have no place in our response to the threat it poses. If one person is excluded, the virus has an opportunity to persist in society and all of our efforts will be undermined," the plea said.
The plea also state that, during these testing times, the worst hit are nurses who are giving care to the patients at bedside without personal protective equipments (PPE), N-95 mask, gloves, etc. especially in private nursing home in Delhi and other parts of the country especially when there is spike in asymptomatic Covid-19 cases.
"This has led to severe stress among the working nurses in Delhi and other parts of the country. Nurses live in the midst of the distress atmosphere of the hospital. Naturally they get tired due to the stress and strain both mentally and physically," the plea said.