The Delhi High Court on Thursday suggested to the Aam Aadmi Party-led government that it should set up a helpline through which healthcare workers could call anonymously to complain against private hospitals not providing adequate personal protective equipment kits or N-95 masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported.
The bench, comprised of Justices DN Patel and Prateek Jalan, was hearing a public interest litigation by a non-governmental organisation that alleged such inaction on the part of private hospitals and nursing homes. The NGO, Distress Management Collective, had also alleged that nurses in private hospitals and clinics were being given used PPE kits.
The court said that once the complaint is received the Delhi government can inspect the hospital or nursing home concerned and fulfill the requirements for protective gear. It also asked the NGO to give suggestions on how the problems mentioned in the PIL could be addressed.
Distress Management Collective sought that all nurses in the private sector be covered under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan insurance package and provided proper psycho-social support. Responding to this, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government said it issued an order on April 7 that if 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, their family shall be provided Rs 1 crore as compensation. The state also said it had issued another order on April 17 introducing psychiatric social counselling services for healthcare workers.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah had last month asked Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev to arrange for psycho-social counselling of nurses and doctors engaged in treatment of coronavirus patients, along with other measures.
Advocate Anil Soni, representing the Centre, told the Delhi High Court on Thursday that it had been providing all possible assistance to states, and put the onus on the states to do the “actual work”. The court, after hearing all sides and making observations, adjourned the matter for July 6.
Delhi is the worst-affected city in India. As of Thursday evening, the city had reported 89,802 cases of the coronavirus, including 2,803 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.