While hearing a clutch of petitions pertaining to the issue of protection and safety of Healthcare workers, the Supreme Court disposed of the pleas on submission of the Centre that a Helpline number will be generated for grievances of medical staff.
A bench comprising Justices N.V. Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul & B.R. Gavai disposed of the petition(s) after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta stated that "any aggrieved healthcare worker may call that helpline for grievances which may be related to non availability of PPEs, salary cut, eviction by house owners etc. All grievances shall be taken care of within 2 hours of the call"
The petitions were filed by United Nurses Association & Indian Nurses Professional Association among others, in order to seek directions to the Government for formulating a comprehensive policy framework for protecting and safeguarding healthcare workers.
In the light of the submission made by the Solicitor General, the Court said :
"we grant liberty to the petitioners to make complaint regarding their grievance on the Helpline Numbers/Control Rooms created/set up by the Government of India. We request the learned Solicitor General to provide a copy of the same to the learned counsel for the petitioners by E-mail".
As regards the prayer for supply of PPEs to health workers, the bench noted that elaborate directions in that regard have already been issued on April 8.
The petition(s) highlighted alleged inadequacy in the system and the plight of healthcare workers "who are exposed to infection in absence of proper safety".
Through the plea filed by United Nations Association, the Petitioner had also urged the government to expand the scope of personal accident cover provided under the "Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Health Workers Fighting COVID-19" to include all health care workers across sectors, including those recruited on ad-hoc basis. Further stating that the health infrastructure in our country is "under resourced", the Petitioner had urged that Covid-19 protection kits are made available to every single health care professional working in the corona isolation wards, or who work in close proximity of patients suspected to be infected with the virus.
The plea filed by Indian Nurses Professional Association had been preferred for protection of nurses and other healthcare workers as they were "first line warriors", fighting a pandemic which "threatened the very existence of human race".
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