The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the AAP government's reply on suggestions for setting up a helpline for nurses to complain against private hospitals for failing to providing N-95 masks and PPE kits as also considering ex-gratia to those who die attending to COVID-19 patients.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan asked the Delhi government to also respond to the suggestion that private hospitals and nursing homes must file an undertaking before the authorities for providing PPE kits, N95 masks to the nurses.
The high court directed the Delhi government, represented through advocate Anupam Srivastava, to file a precise reply to the 6 points suggested by the counsel for an NGO which has filed a PIL alleging that nurses in private hospitals and nursing homes were not being provided proper personal protection equipment (PPE) kits and masks to guard against COVID-19 infection.
Besides helpline, ex-gratia and undertaking, the Delhi government will also respond to the suggestions of extending the benefit of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) of insurance protection to nurses working in private hospitals and nursing homes and that the insurance premium be paid by the authorities at least for the limited period during the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Nurses must be provided with a quarantine facility and a nodal officer be appointed so that nurses can ventilate their grievances before and he can take up the issues with the government, the advocate of the NGO, Distress Management Collective, Manoj V George suggested.
As the Delhi government's counsel sought time to file reply to the suggestions, the court listed the matter for July 17.
The Centre, represented by its standing counsel Anil Soni, told the court that he will seek instruction on the suggestion of extending the benefit of PMGKP of insurance protection to nurses.
The NGO has alleged that nurses in private hospitals and clinics were being given used PPE kits. It sought that all the private sector nurses be covered under the PMGKP of insurance protection and provided proper psycho-social support.
On these aspects, the Delhi government had earlier said that it has issued an office order on April 7 which states that any person, including doctors, nurses, para-medical staff, sweeper or any other staff in government or private sector, expires while attending to COVID-19 patients his/ her family shall be provided Rs 1 crore as compensation.
It had also said that an office order was issued on June 17 notifying that psychiatric social counselling services are being made available to health care workers under a programme called 'samarthan'.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in its response, had said health care workers in government and private sectors are covered under the PMGKP which provides comprehensive personal accident cover of Rs 50 lakh.
The NGO, which claims to be a group of social workers, healthcare professionals, lawyers, retired bureaucrats and retired judges, has alleged that the Centre and the Delhi government have a "discriminatory approach" towards nurses in private hospitals and nursing homes as compared to those working in state-run facilities.
It has also claimed that the private management which runs these nursing homes/hospitals "are maintaining nil or meagre inventory of requisite stock of safety equipments" and are not exercising basic precautions for safety and security of their healthcare workers.