Coronavirus | Delhi HC suggests exclusive helpline for healthcare workers

A medical staff member seen with PPE Kit outside the Mortuary of RML Hospital, during a fight against the spread of coronavirus, in New Delhi on June 09, 2020.

A medical staff member seen with PPE Kit outside the Mortuary of RML Hospital, during a fight against the spread of coronavirus, in New Delhi on June 09, 2020.   | Photo Credit: R. V. Moorthy

The Delhi High Court on Thursday suggested that the government could open a helpline exclusively for COVID-19 healthcare workers in the capital, where nurses, paramedical and housekeeping staff could make an anonymous complaint if they were not given personal protective gear.

A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan made the suggestion while hearing a petition by the Distress Management Collective, which claimed that many private nursing homes, which total around 1,100 in the capital, were not giving adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, gloves, N-95 masks and other protective gear to the healthcare workers.


Advocate Manoj V. George, appearing for the Collective, highlighted that there was a need for urgent direction to protect the ‘corona warriors’ against health hazards “due to utter disregard and callousness by the administration”.

Mr. George stated that about 18 healthcare workers, both in public and private institutions, had died and another 2,000 had contracted the infection in the city.

“We have to find a solution which is both practical and efficient,” the Bench said, noting that the government’s resources and that of private nursing homes were stressed beyond any imaginable capacity.


Rather than a committee inspecting every nursing home, a helpline could be set up where the nurses or healthcare workers could anonymously complain if they were not getting the protective equipment as per the government guidelines, the Bench said.

“The idea is not to shut the nursing homes and hospitals, the idea is to make sure that they comply with the guidelines,” the Bench said, after it was told that a committee, constituted by the Delhi government, had been conducting surprise inspection of the nursing homes and private hospitals.

The Collective sought direction to the government to collect data of all private hospitals and nursing homes and to come out with details of the nurses and doctors infected and being treated for the infection.

It has also asked for direction to the government to cover all the private sector nurses under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package of insurance protection.

Mr. George also sought for “equal protection for equal risk” under the Delhi government compensation scheme in case of death of healthcare workers which, he said, gave the benefit of the scheme to only persons attending to COVID-19 patients.

He cited the incident where a nurse, who was not on any COVID-related duty, died due to the virus. “So technically speaking, she does not fall under the definition for the compensation,” Mr. George argued.

The High Court asked Mr. George to make a written submission on his suggestions and posted the case for further hearing next week.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 10:56:53 AM |

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