The Centre has told the Delhi High Court that it has provided personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and N 95 masks to states and union territories as per their requirement and it is upto them to “optimally utilize” the protective gear.
The submission by the Union Health Ministry has been made on an affidavit filed in response to a PIL by an NGO alleging that nurses in private hospitals were not being provided proper protection equipment to guard against COVID-19 infection.
The NGO, in its plea, has alleged that nurses in private hospitals and clinics were being given used PPE kits.
The ministry in its affidavit, said “The central government is making available PPE kits, N-95 masks etc to states/UTs as per requirements. It is the responsibility of the states/UTs to optimally utilise the kits,”
The Delhi government, in its response to the plea by NGO, Distress Management Collective, has said that it was taking action against private hospitals and nursing homes which violate the COVID guidelines as and when such instances are brought to its attention.
It said that it has issued show cause notice to a nursing home against which complaints were received from nursing staff that proper PPE kits, masks, etc were not being provided to them. The show cause notice was issued after carrying out an inspection of the nursing home which revealed that disposable PPE kits were not supplied to the nursing staff, the Delhi government affidavit said.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan will peruse the affidavits and hear the matter on July 2.
The NGO, in its plea, has also sought that all the private sector nurses be covered under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package of insurance protection and they be provided proper psycho-social support.
On these aspects, the Delhi government has 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 one crore as compensation.
It has 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, in its response, has said that health care workers in government and private sectors are covered under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package which provides comprehensive personal accident cover of Rs 50 lakh.
The Distress Management Collective, which claims to be a group of social workers, health 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 healthcare 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.
The petition has further claimed that the Centre and Delhi government “are not taking any action despite many representations by the nurses individually and collectively”.