HC directs State to fill posts of doctors, health staff by Nov. 30

‘State liable to pay compensation for maternal deaths caused due to non-availability of doctors at health centres’

Observing that State government cannot come out with its “usual excuse of financial constraints” to provide proper health services, the High Court of Karnataka has set November 30 as deadline for the State government to fill vacancies of doctors, specialised doctors, staff nurses, paramedical staff, health workers, and health assistants at all levels in public hospitals and health centres.

All vacant posts should be filled in a phased manner and while doing so, immediate priority should be given to vacancies in Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs), and if regular appointments are likely to take time, appointment of essential staff such as doctors, nurses and health workers, should be made on contract basis, the court said.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Pradeep Singh Yerur issued the directions in its recent interim on a PIL petition, filed by the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority. The petition had sought directions to the government to effectively implement health schemes to check maternal mortality, to fill vacancies in posts of gynaecologists and paediatrics etc.

Pointing out this issue is related to the class of families who cannot afford to access private medical facilities, the Bench said failure on the part of the State government to fill the posts would amount to violation of fundamental right of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

“... in a case of women belonging to a family below poverty line suffering maternal death due to lack of availability of doctors at the grassroots level facilities, her family can claim compensation by taking recourse to public law remedy for violation of Article 21 of the Constitution,” the Bench observed, while directing the government to submit by March 20 the phase-wise schedule to fill posts.

The Bench also asked the government to appoint a committee of high-ranking officers rank in every district to monitor functioning of taluk hospitals, PHCs, CHCs, and sub-centres by constantly reviewing the facilities provided and services rendered. The committee can also supervise implementation of schemes of the State and Union governments for pregnant women, lactating mothers and newborn, the Bench said.

Referring to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on “Performance of Audit of Reproductive and Child Health Care under the National Rural Health Mission” of March 2016, which pointed out large number of vacancies in public hospitals and health centres, the Bench said the report shows a very dismal picture about the facilities at the grassroots level in the State. The government has not placed any document to show that either the situation has improved after 2017 and vacancies in health facilities at grassroots level had been filled.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 2:20:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/hc-directs-state-to-fill-posts-of-doctors-health-staff-by-nov-30/article30964870.ece

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