Concerned over the deaths of infants in government hospitals in the Valley, the Supreme Court has asked Jammu and Kashmir High Court to set up a panel of medical experts and administrators for examining conditions of the hospitals and submit a report.
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“The hospitals which are conducted by the state and by public agencies cater to medical needs of the poorest strata of society. The need for ensuring proper medical care of a requisite standard has to be duly addressed,” a bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur held.
The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, referred to “unprecedented neonatal/infant deaths which took place in January-May 2012 in GB Pant Hospital, Srinagar,” and said the High Court must look into them. In the first half of 2012, around 500 infants died in GB Pant hospital — the Valley’s only hospital for children.
“The quality of medical care in government hospitals across the state of Jammu and Kashmir is a matter which should receive attention and oversight in the exercise of the jurisdiction under Article 226 (writ jurisdiction of the High Court)… we would commend to the High Court the need for constituting a Committee of Experts to scrutinize the conditions in public-government hospitals in the state,” said the bench.
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“The Committee shall submit a report on the state of public-government hospitals in the state. The High Court would be at liberty, after scrutinizing the report of the Expert Committee and upon hearing the relevant stakeholders…to issue appropriate directions and monitor compliance,” it added.
It underlined the issues that the high court should take into account while setting up the panel. The focus areas, according to the top court, shall include availability of adequate infrastructure in the hospitals; availability of essential equipment; availability of staff — medical, paramedical and of a supporting nature; enforcement of conditions of hygiene to secure proper treatment; and availability of essential medicines.
The apex court was hearing J&K government’s appeal challenging the high court order to restrain government doctors and teachers from engaging in private practice.