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After doctor's murder, Kerala cabinet approves ordinance to ensure safety of health workers

Thiruvananthapuram: Following the brutal murder of a doctor in the State last week, the Kerala government on Wednesday has approved an ordinance that seeks to ensure workplace safety in healthcare facilities.
A Cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan today decided to promulgate the Kerala Health Care Service Workers and Health Care Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Amendment Ordinance, 2012. According to the ordinance any person who commits, attempts to commit, incites or inspires an act of violence at hospitals shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than 6 months and 5 years and with a fine not less than Rs 50,000 and upto Rs 2 lakh.
If the health care service worker is subjected to grievous bodily harm, the punishment will be imprisonment for not less than one year and upto 7 years and a fine of not less than Rs 1 lakh and upto Rs 5 lakh.
The existing Act covered registered (including provisionally registered) medical practitioners, registered nurses, medical students, nursing students and paramedical staff working in healthcare institutions. Paramedical students will also be included in the revised ordinance.
It will include paramedical staff, security guards, managerial staff, ambulance drivers, helpers who are posted and working in health care institutions and health workers notified in the official government gazette from time to time.
Cases registered under the Act will be investigated by a police officer, not below the rank of Inspector. Case investigation shall be completed within 60 days from the date of registration of the First Information Report. Trial proceedings will be completed in a timely manner. A court in each district shall be designated as a special court for a speedy trial.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had ordered to amend the Act based on the assessment that those who commit violence against health workers are not getting the punishment they deserve, said government sources.
After 23-year-old doctor, Vandana Das was fatally stabbed by a patient at the Kottarakkara Taluk hospital, a high-level official meeting was convened and a decision was taken to amend the Act and issue an ordinance.
A committee comprising representatives of health, home and law departments and health and science universities was tasked with preparing the draft ordinance.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had assured doctors who had called on him after doctor Vandana's murder that the ordinance would be approved in the cabinet meeting. (ANI)

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