Plea in SC raises issue of attack on health care workers, seeks security system at hospitals

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New Delhi, Jun 30 (PTI) A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Centre and authorities concerned to ensure adequate security at hospitals and medical centres across the country to prevent attacks on doctors and health care workers by relatives of patients and others.

The plea, filed by Delhi Medical Association and Dr Satyajit Borah who is the president of Assam State Branch of Indian Medical Association, has also sought directions to the Centre and states to have a distress fund to grant mandatory compensation to the victim or family of the deceased health care workers, including doctors and nurses, in such cases of violence.

The petition, filed through advocate Sneha Kalita, has said that there is an increase in number of such assaults and verbal abuse, and there have been “extreme incidents of public lynching” that have led to the death of doctors or health workers.

“The petitioners are seeking appropriate directions in the form of guidelines to have a security system in place to ensure a safe working environment for the medical service personnel/ professionals and the health care workers…,” it said.

“At present, there is no substantial central legislation which has a holistic mechanism of preventive, punitive and compensative measures which can address the above-mentioned issues of violence against medical service personnel/professionals and the health care workers,” the plea has claimed.

It said in the present scenario of the COVID-19 pandemic, not only India but the whole world is going through a huge crisis, and doctors and other medical professionals have worked tirelessly to save lives.

“As per the COVID registry of martyrs report, maintained by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), while 747 doctors succumbed to COVID-19 in the first wave, 748 doctors lost their lives in the second wave,” it said.

The plea claimed that out of 28 states and eight Union Territories, 23 states and two UTs have their own legislation with provisions of punishment to those who commit violence against health care professionals and damage to property of its establishment.

“It is pertinent to mention that attack on doctors and other health care workers, is widespread in the country and the present scenario has only seen its increase. This situation calls for a stricter preventive measure to be taken wherein, a future occurrence of such attacks can be contained,” the plea said.

It has also sought direction for formulating a mechanism to ensure expeditious hearing and speedy trial of such assault cases against medical service personals and health care workers.

The issue of attack on doctors and healthcare workers has been raised by the IMA and other similar bodies.

The central government had in September last year enacted the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act, 2020, that provides for up to seven years in jail for those attacking healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus or during any situation akin to the current pandemic. PTI ABA SJK RT

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