‘Delay in employing staff for clinics would cause damage’
The Tamil Nadu government has informed the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court that any delay in employing essential staff for the Amma Mini Clinics at this stage would cause irreparable damage to the capacity of the State to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
It would also affect efforts to fight other seasonal diseases and derail the plan to implement the massive vaccination exercise. The government said the employment of essential staff was only temporary and contractual in nature.
In a counter-affidavit submitted to the court, the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine T.S. Selvavinayagam said work relating to the COVID-19 pandemic had to be done without disturbing or compromising the regular health programmes. This cannot be done if regular staff are diverted to fever clinics and mini clinics.
The counter was filed in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition that challenged the method adopted to recruit the staff.
The COVID-19 pandemic had brought back focus on the augmentation of healthcare infrastructure and human resources, with a view towards the promotion of disease prevention, preparedness and response plans to prevent outbreaks. Besides, it highlighted the need to slow down and stop the transmission, to minimise the impact of the epidemic on health systems and to provide optimised care for all patients and people of the State, the counter said. It was submitted that a 24-member high-level committee set up by the State government to recommend measures on the post COVID-19 revival of the economy, headed by Dr. C. Rangarajan, had recommended the augmentation of the healthcare infrastructure by setting up such clinics. It will be impossible to carry out the vaccination without these mini clinics in addition to the other vaccination centres, the counter said.
There were three posts at the mini clinics: medical officer, staff nurse and a part-time multi-purpose hospital worker. The three posts will be under the administrative control of the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. The Executive Sub-Committee of the National Health Mission, Tamil Nadu, had already permitted the authorities to fill up the post of staff nurse with the required qualification recognised by the Indian Nursing Council.
A Division Bench of Justices M.M. Sundresh and S. Ananthi granted time to the petitioner to peruse the counter and file a response.
The PIL petition was filed by Madurai advocate G.V. Vairam Santhosh, who said the State had engaged a private agency to recruit the medical staff. The case was adjourned till next week. The State agreed to maintain status quo on the recruitment till then.
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