A nurse of HAH Centenary Hospital, infected with COVID-19, has knocked the door of the Delhi High Court challenging termination of her employment and other 83 staff members of the hospitals.
Gufrana Khatoon, a nurse of COVID-19 designated HAH Centenary Hospital of Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences & Research (HIMSR), was infected and tested positive for coronavirus on July 3 and she was not provided free testing despite showing symptoms of COVID-19.
In the termination order dated July 11, HAH Centenary Hospital administration stated that these nurses were being relieved because of ‘absence from office without sanctioned leave and absent without intimation’.
However, several of them were on duty till July 11 and others were in quarantine, read the petition filed by lawyer Subhash Chandran.
They have also demanded to formulate a COVID-19 Management Protocol for addressing the serious concerns relating to imminent and extreme risks posed to the health and safety of health care workers in the national capital and to ensure that COVID-19 protection kits are made available to every single health care professional working in the corona isolation wards, or who work in close proximity of patients suspected to be infected with the virus.
The petitioner said that the staff was terminated when they demanded access to basic facilities like N-95 masks, sufficient numbers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), better working hours, drinking water, free COVID-19 tests, adequate quarantine facilities for healthcare staffers during COVID-19 duty.
According to the petition, despite the government order, the HAH Centenary Hospital of Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences & Research (HIMSR) terminated a large group of health care professionals only for raising legitimate concerns in the context of COVID-19.
“The step taken by the hospital management to dismiss 84 nursing officers is arbitrary and clearly in violation of the government directives. It is pertinent to mention that there are specific directives from both Central and State Government against termination of employees and reduction of wages during COVID-19 time,” read the petition.
The petitioner has been appointed as a staff nurse in HAH Centenary Hospital on May 16, 2017, and the contractual appointment has been renewed from time to time till September 11 this year.
The petition said that the decision to terminate the 84 nurses is clearly a retaliatory move against the health care staffers for having raised legitimate concerns in the context of COVID-19.
The petitioner also apprised the court that with other terminated nurses, represented by United Nurses Association (UNA) and the said Trade Union of Professional Nurses made a request to Chief Minister and Labour Minister of Delhi to immediately intervene in this matter but unfortunately, no action has been taken yet and being aggrieved by the inaction of Delhi Government, they approached the High Court.
The petitioner has requested the Delhi High Court to direct the Respondents to take appropriate action against HAH Centenary Hospital of HIMSR.
The petitioner has urged the court to an issued direction related to the timely payment of salaries to the health care workers. The petitioner also sought a direction to ensure that Private
Hospitals are not charging or deducting salaries from Health care workers if they get infected COVID-19 while they are on duty.
The plea also sought direction related to adequate and standard nutritious meals, drinking water is provided to the health care workers working in the corona isolation wards and to expand the scope of personal accident cover provided under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Health Workers Fighting COVID-19’ to include all health care workers across sectors.