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Set Up Flying Squads To Inspect Govt Hospitals, Ensure Doctors & Medical Staff Attend Duty During Working Hours: Madras HC Directs Health Secy

Upasana Sajeev
17 Nov 2022 9:41 AM GMT
Pendency Of Maintenance Petitions Affects The Fundamental Rights Of Minor Children, Courts Should Show Sensitivity: Madras High Court

The Madras High Court recently directed the government to constitute "Flying Squads" at Regional and District levels to conduct frequent surprise inspections in Government Hospitals, Primary Health Centres, etc., across the State to ensure that Doctors and other staffs are properly working in the hospitals and also ensure that the Hospitals are working in a good manner.

Justice SM Subramaniam observed,

The 1st respondent (State) is directed to constitute required number of "Flying Squads" at Regional levels / District levels for the purpose of conducting frequent surprise inspections in Government Hospitals, Primary Health Centres, etc., across the State of Tamil Nadu and ensure that the Doctors, Nurses, Paramedical staff attend their duties as per the rules in force and present during the working hours in the medical institutions, and to monitor the functioning of the Hospitals in all respects including the quality of treatments and medicines supplied to the patients etc.

The court also directed that the activities of the Flying Squad could be monitored by the Head of Departments or the Government to maintain its efficiency.

The court was hearing a plea by an ex-Medical Store Officer against whom disciplinary action was initiated for procuring bulk quantity of speciality medicines over and above the requirement and without following any procedures. This procurement caused huge financial loss to the State Exchequer which warranted responsibility and accountability. The Medical Store Officer was challenging the order of the Dean (Coimbatore Medical College Hospital) imposing penalty.

The petitioner contended that she had followed due procedure and that recovery could not be made after her retirement. She submitted that she was wrongfully held liable for the expired medicines.

The court noted that the allegations against the petitioner were serious in nature. The court also noted that the petitioner had not cooperated with the departmental enquiry on account of pendency of the petition which was improper.

Pendency of the writ petition before the High Court, cannot be a ground to plead limitation for the purpose of exonerating an employee from departmental disciplinary proceedings. the court noted.

The court thus directed the respondents to conduct the enquiry in a proper manner by following all due procedures within a period of 3 months of the order. The court also directed the petitioner to cooperate with the enquiry proceedings and in the event of non-cooperation, the petitioner was not entitled to seek any reliefs.

Ensuring Quality In Healthcare

During the pendency of the proceedings, the court had sought a status report from the State regarding the regulatory mechanisms in force for the purchase and utilisation of speciality medicines. The State submitted a detailed report emphasising the mechanisms are put in place to ensure that only quality medicines were distributed in the Hospitals.

It was informed that the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporations Limited is functioning as the Nodal Agency for procurement of medicines which involves an open tender process to procure drugs from the manufacturers and supply drugs to Government Hospitals. The Corporation purchases drugs with a shelf life of 95% to ensure that short expiry drugs were not supplied. Further if any hospitals had excess drugs, it was supplied to other hospitals that were in need of the medicines.

The State also ensured that stringent action will be taken against doctors and other officials under Tamil Nadu Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules who were involved in abuse/misuse or were indulging in corruption of medicine. Further, Aadhar Enabled Biometric Attendance System was set up in Primary Health Centres and other Public Health Institutions to monitor the attendance of Doctors, Nurses and Paramedical Staff in all the medical institutions across the State of Tamil Nadu.

Case Title: S Muthumalai Rani v The Secretary and others

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 466

Case No: WP No.34112 of 2016

Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr.B.Kumar Senior Counsel For Mr.T.Sudhan Raj

Counsel for the Respondents: Mr.Stalin Abhimanyu Additional Government Pleader, Mr.D.Gopal Government Advocate, Mr.V.Murali

Click here for the judgment

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