The Gujarat High Court has expressed concern over delay in “supply of essential equipment, medicines and other supplies” to medical officers, while taking note of news reports that they were opting for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), allegedly frustrated by bureaucratic red-tape that affects their requests for essential supplies.
A division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala sought a response from the government authorities by the next date of hearing on April 9.
In an order made public on Wednesday, the bench noted that a number of senior doctors wished to opt for VRS, primarily due to the bureaucratic “mismanagement and red-tape” that leads to an increasingly difficult work environment, with their requests to officials in Gandhinagar often going unheard, transfers being meted out inexplicably and concerns met with government indifference. It was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation on Covid-19 and related matters on February 26.
“It is also reported that requests by medical experts to bureaucrats in Gandhinagar for essential equipments, medicines and other supplies are not supplied in time and delayed frustratingly, leading to shortage,” the bench observed.
The issue of shortage of qualified specialists such as cardiologists, gynaecologists, etc., too, was highlighted. “This is something we need to take cognisance of in public interest, more particularly, in this time of Covid pandemic,” the bench remarked.
The bench, however, clarified that it is “not concerned with the internal management and administration of the state’s top hospitals and medical college”.
“We express our concern only keeping in mind the interest of the people hailing from the poor strata of the society. People who come to the government hospitals should not be deprived of essential medical services on account of shortage of equipment, medicines and lack of other infrastructure facilities. If there are no adequate number of doctors, people from the poor strata of society would suffer,” the order dated February 26 reads.
Taking note of the surge in Covid-19 cases in Gujarat, the bench gave five suggestions for the state government, including increased testing in major cities and strict implementation of mask rule and increased vigilance at all the major public places in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar.
The bench also suggested that “anticipating the worst in the near future”, the state government “should be ready with adequate numbers of Covid designated hospitals”, with sufficient number of beds. The division bench added that “people at large should once again be put to caution that their carefree attitude or negligence may force the state government to once again impose a lockdown”.