Even as complaints from various parts of the country on the way healthcare workers are being treated and paid, and with the courts directing the government to take adequate steps to address their issues, the Centre has extended the Rs 50 lakh insurance scheme for about 22 lakh healthcare providers for another three months till September.
The scheme implemented by New India Assurance was slated to end on 30 June, as per the announcement made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as part of the Rs 1.70 lakh Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package in March.
The insurance provides a comprehensive personal accident cover of Rs 50 lakh to a total of around 22.12 lakh public healthcare providers, including community health workers, who may have to be in direct contact and care of patients suffering from coronavirus infection and who may be at risk of being impacted by this.
Insurance Scheme for health workers in government hospitals and healthcare centres operationalised with effect from 30 March, 2020, an official statement said, adding the scheme has been extended up to September.
The scheme is funded through the National Disaster Response Fund, operated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitation workers and a few others working in hospitals under the central and state governments will be covered under the insurance scheme.
While announcing the scheme, the Finance Minister had said, safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health workers would be covered by the special insurance scheme.
“Any health professional, who while treating Covid-19 patients, meet with some accident, then he/she would be compensated with an amount of Rs 50 lakh under the scheme,” she had said.
All government health centres, wellness centres and hospitals of the Centre as well as States would be covered under this scheme, she had said. However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare later in an FAQ clarified that private hospital staff treating COVID-19 patients will also be covered.
Last week, the Supreme Court had urged the Union government to issue directions to States for payment of salaries and providing necessary quarantine facilities to doctors and healthcare workers engaged in treating Covid-19 patients.
The top court’s bench of justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah directed the Centre to file a compliance report within four weeks on payment of salaries and quarantine facilities to doctors and healthcare workers and warned that non-compliance would be viewed seriously.
The court said that doctors and healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients should not be denied quarantine facilities. The government told the court it would issue the necessary directions.
The latest announcement to extend the insurance scheme is a good move and the well-being of healthcare workers and their family members should be taken care of in every aspect.