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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Karnataka health dept begins inquiry after 3 staffers attempt suicide blaming seniors

When asked if a grievance redressal system was in place for employees to raise such issues, the district health officer said employees can approach officers at different levels for the same.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru |
Updated: September 24, 2021 7:54:34 am
The case at KIMS Hubballi is being investigated by officials of the Medical Education Department. (Photo: Twitter/@viswas_mr)

The Department of Health and Family Welfare in Karnataka initiated a departmental inquiry after three cases of attempt to suicide by staff members of various departments were reported from Dharwad district last week. All the three had alleged harassment by their seniors.

As many as three health workers — a nurse at Hebballi primary health centre (PHC) who tried to hang herself, a health inspector at Noolvi PHC and a cleaning staff at KIMS Hubballi — attempted suicide in separate incidents since September 16 in the district.

Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar had ordered the district administration to submit a report after an internal inquiry.

Dharwad District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Yashwant Madinkar told The Indian Express that separate committees were formed to investigate the matters at Hebballi and Noolvi while the case at KIMS Hubballi is being investigated by officials of the Medical Education Department.

“Further action will be taken against the accused based on the findings of the committees formed. Duty hours and the overall situation has been strenuous due to the pandemic for a year-and-a-half now, leading to issues between employees and their seniors at different levels,” he explained.

When asked if a grievance redressal system is in place for employees to raise such issues, the DHO said employees can approach officers at different levels for the same.

However, a nurse working at a PHC in the district, on condition of anonymity said, “We are asked to submit complaints to our immediate reporting officers who would escalate the issue to his or her superior if needed. In most situations, the complaint would be against the immediate reporting officer itself which closes all ways for us to get a response. In such cases, we have no other way than to file a police complaint which would then be dragged for months and years, until which, the same officer will continue to harass the complainant.”

Further, the DHO added that special counselling sessions will be offered to those in need in association with mental health experts from National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences and other counsellors. “An internal communication to inform the employees of the facility has been sent on Monday. We aspire to keep our staff in good health both physically and mentally and will make all efforts to strive towards it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the case at KIMS Hubballi is being investigated by officials of the Medical Education Department. Incidentally, all three staff members are out of danger and are under treatment at present.

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