'We must express gratitude to frontline healthcare workers battling COVID': SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Friday said doctors, nurses and other frontline health care workers are playing a vital role during the COVID-19 pandemic and it was high time to express gratitude to them as also the may Centre consider compensating them.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, L N Rao and S Ravindra Bhat said they know a doctor who is well known to Supreme Court judges and was yesterday struggling to find a bed in a hospital here after being infected by COVID-19.

“You (centre) have to consider every aspect. You may have a look at compensating them. They (health care workers) are falling sick. They 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,” the bench said.

Justice Bhat said that he was not blaming anybody but thought that more needed to be done for these health care workers.

“We think that the health sector has reached a breakpoint. There are hospitals but there is a shortage of doctors. Beds are being added but there is a shortage of health care staff. We can re employ retired health care professionals to tide over this crisis. We need to see how the doctors and nurses who are contracting COVID are safeguarded,” the bench said.

The bench, which was hearing a suo motu case on ensuring essential supplies and services during the pandemic, asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, to ensure that they are paid more and safeguarded.

Justice Bhat said he has read somewhere that around 25,000 doctors and nurses are willing to work, “I think the government should utilize their services”.

Mehta agreed with the views of the court and said that doctors and health care officials are doing commendable work and they need to be appreciated whole heartedly.

“I know of two doctors, who helped in cremating patients and were back on duty within six hours,” Mehta said.