Since January 5, the Greater Chennai Corporation has started using messaging app WhatsApp to discipline staff reporting late for work in its urban primary health centres (UPHCs) following complaints from patients.
Zonal health officers and medical officers across 15 zones are required to visit at least two hospitals every day between 8:00 -8:30 am, take a photograph of the staff present, and post it on a WhatsApp group along with attendance details. Chennai currently hosts 140 UPHCs that treat approximately 150 patients every day, and are required to function from 8 am to 3 pm.
Several patients have complained about the tardy arrival of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and lab technicians who also leave earlier than scheduled.
"We have formed a WhatsApp group exclusively to monitor UPHCs and instructed all concerned officers to visit them early in the morning and check whether all staff are present," a senior corporation official said in an interview with Times of India."The idea is to curb absenteeism among the UPHC staff and ensure field inspections by senior health officials. We will be able to track the regular defaulters and prevent tampering of the attendance registers."
The civic body has also employed the messaging app to oversee garbage clearance and roadwork. It also has a website attendance.gov.in to keep a work-timing record of employees working in central government establishments.
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