Doctor says asking clinicians to screen dialysis patients for financial aid affects their duty, Kerala HC asks Health Secretary to decide

The Kerala High Court recently ordered the state’s Principal Secretary of Health to decide on medical representation aimed at relieving clinical doctors from the responsibility of attending Gram-level administrative committee meetings with the aim of deciding on the list of beneficiaries eligible for financial assistance for kidney dialysis.

The petitioner alleged that in order to participate in such meetings, physicians in primary, family and community health centers must abstain from their duties, which in turn negatively affects other ordinary patients.

He understood that “the doctors of the Primary, Family and Community Health Center will be implicated in a criminal case under the Prevention of Corruption Act for corruption committed by the Panchayath Board of Trustees in granting and distributing money for the treatment of kidney dialysis to eligible applicants and its misuse.

The petitioner therefore requested that non-clinical physicians be entrusted with the above-mentioned responsibility instead.

Judge N. Nagaresh directed the Health Secretary to make the appropriate decision on the matter, within two months.

The petitioner challenged the circular issued by the additional secretary of local government department, government secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram (3rd respondent here), regarding the sanction to provide financial assistance for dialysis for all categories of kidney patients by the intermediary of the relevant hospital to the extent of Rs.1,000/- per week up to a maximum of Rs.4,000/- per month.

In the plea filed by Lawyer R. Gopan, it was asserted by the petitioner that according to the ordinance of the government, the administrative committee of each Grama Panchayath should prepare the list of eligible beneficiaries to provide financial aid to kidney patients, and the Grama Sabha should then approve the said listing. The amount should then be disbursed from the Panchayat fund, and the government doctors in the hospital within the boundaries of the Grama Panchayath would be the implementers of the scheme, who should issue a check to the government or the private hospital as the case may be. be submitted by the Panchayat.

In this light, it was argued by the petitioner that there were no facilities in primary, family and community health centers to provide dialysis treatment to kidney patients. It was argued that doctors had no role to certify or review patients who were on the list of beneficiaries prepared by the Panchayath Board of Trustees nor any authority to review or clarify whether the private hospital to whom the check had been issued at the facility required to give dialysis or if the patient underwent the treatment using the Panchayath fund.

The petitioners also argued that the responsibility and duties of selecting deserving candidates from the list prepared by the administrative committee of the Grama Panchayath should be given to the doctors in the non-clinical setting, so as not to overburden the doctors in the clinical setting.

It was claimed that the Claimant approached the Chief Secretary, Secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram (1st Respondent here) with a representation seeking clarification in the circular, which was still pending. It is in these circumstances that the present motion was filed to ask the 3rd defendant not to insist that the doctors in the clinical setting attend the meetings which were to be held, pending the decision of the writ, and also the issuance of the writ of mandamus requesting the Respondents to expeditiously review and dispose of the representations made by the Petitioner.

Government litigator Vidya Kuriakose appeared on behalf of the defendant authorities.

Case title: Dr Prathibha K. v. State of Kerala & Ors.

Quote: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 583

Click here to read/download the order