The Kerala High Court last week refused to entertain the United Nurses Association's plea to bring back the COVID affected Nurses to the state to give them proper medication.
The Association had filed the Writ Petition pointing out that the COVID affected Nurses and Nurses who are likely to be infected, are not provided any facilities for medication, testing, quarantine, food, etc in other States. "According to them the Nurses in the State of Kerala are in an enviable position as due care is given to them, while their counterparts in other States are completely neglected and are struggling to pull on", the division bench noted.
"We find that the State of Kerala, as well as the Government of India, are taking positive action to ensure the safety of the health workers including Nurses", declared the Court.
"The prayer for bringing back the Nurses who are COVID affected cannot be granted", ruled the Court, observing that "in this Writ Petition the details of the affected/aggrieved Nurses are not given" and the "Petitioner has only projected its general grievance that there are several Nurses who are not getting medication in various States".
The bench took note of an April 20 letter of the Secretary to Department of Health and Family Welfare addressing the Chief Secretaries and Secretary to Health Department of all the States informing that adequate measures are taken for ensuring the safety of health persons and requesting to disseminate those measures adopted by the Government to all the health professional in the Government and private hospitals/medical colleges. "...that letter provides that the Government has announced an accidental insurance cover of Rs.50 lakhs for 2200 for 22.12 lakh health care workers who may be drafted for services for COVID-19 persons under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Package. The benefit of this would be available to the Nurses in all the States including Kerala", records the judgment.
The Court also took note of an April 29 Office Memorandum vide which orders are issued under section 10(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act. "Guidelines have been issued for strict implementation by the Ministries/Departments of Government of India, State/Union Territory authorities relating to the transportation of persons stranded in other States. As per these guidelines, all States have to designate Nodal authorities and develop standard protocols for receiving and sending stranded persons and these nodal authorities shall register the stranded persons within the State", reads the judgment.
It was pointed out to the bench that instructions are issued to all the States to appoint Nodal Officers for taking care of such persons. Further, the Nurses who are affected or likely to be affected in another States can approach these Nodal Officers in the event they are not getting proper care or medication and those Nodal Officers would be able to intervene in the matter and to take appropriate action.
"The learned Government Pleader pointed out that the State Government has already addressed the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Delhi seeking their intervention and assistance to protect the health and safety of the health workers including paramedical staff hailing from this State", observed the Court.
Moreover, it iterated that the Association has itself admitted that the State Government has already intervened for ensuring the safety of the Nurses in other States. "When the Central Government has also issued guidelines insisting the measures to be adopted, for ensuring the safety of Health workers, the petitioner or the affected nurses would be free to approach the Nodal Officer pointing out the inadequacies in the facilities available to them and to get their grievances redressed...in cases where the intervention of Nodal Officers could not solve the problem, the Central Government would definitely step in", opined the Court.
Finally, the bench said that the petitioner Association or the members of the family of the affected Nurses would also be free to approach the concerned Nodal Officers including the officer of the State of Kerala to redress their grievances and the matter will be duly looked into and taken care of by the Government of Kerala as well as Government of India
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