‘High Time We Express Gratitude To Healthcare Workers’: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court said that frontline healthcare workers such as doctors and nurses deserved gratitude for their role in the COVID-19 pandemic. The court also stated that the Centre should consider compensating them.

The bench of Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice LN Rao and Justice S Ravindra Bhat said that “They (healthcare workers) have been playing a vital role during this humanitarian crisis. Some of them have even lost their lives. We think it’s high time that we express gratitude to them.” They also said that the Centre should look into compensating them as they are falling sick.

This statement came after the bench said that a doctor well known to the Supreme Court judges was struggling to find a hospital bed after testing positive for COVID-19. Justice Bhat said that he was not blaming anyone, but believed that more needed to be done for the healthcare workers.

The bench said that the health sector “reached a breakpoint” and said that though there are hospitals, there is a shortage of staff. “We need to see how the doctors and nurses who are contracting COVID are safeguarded,” said the bench.

The bench added that while hospital beds were being added, there was still a shortage of healthcare workers. Reemploying retired healthcare professionals was suggested by them. Justice Bhat mentioned that he had read that around 25,000 healthcare workers are willing to work. Bhat said that their services should be utilised by the government of India.

The bench was hearing a case on ensuring essential supplies and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was asked by the bench to ensure that frontline healthcare workers are paid more and safeguarded against COVID-19.

Tushar Mehta agreed with the court and said that the frontline doctors and nurses need to be appreciated for their commendable work.