Delhi HC vacates the stay on beds in hospitals for COVID patients

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Delhi HC vacates stay on reserving 80 pc ICU beds in 33 private hospitals for COVID patients

New Delhi [India]: The Delhi High Court on Thursday vacated a stay imposed by a single-judge bench on the Delhi government’s order on the reservation of 80 per cent ICU beds in 33 private hospitals for COVID-19 patients.

A division bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad issued the order observing that there is a rise in COVID-19 infections in the national capital.

“In view of the present situation in Delhi, the spiralling cases and the ground reality which is different from how it was when the stay order was passed, the stay order on the reservation is vacated,” the bench said.

However, the bench clarified that no person in a health emergency can be allowed to run from pillar to post when there is a bed available and directed that nodal officers are in a position to relax the norm of 80 per cent for these hospitals without strictly adhering to the decision.

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Image Source: Digpu

The division bench directed to continue Delhi government decision on the reservation of 80 per cent private hospital ICU beds for COVID-19 patients in selected hospitals till November 26, the next date of hearing before the single-judge bench, and asked the Delhi government to file an additional affidavit on material information before the single-judge.

The High Court was hearing a petition filed by the Delhi government against a single-judge bench order imposing an interim stay on its decision to reserve 80 per cent ICU beds in 33 private hospitals in the national capital for COVID-19 patients.

Earlier in the morning, the bench had sought to know the rationale behind specifically choosing these 33 private hospitals for reservation of 80 per cent ICU beds for COVID-19 patients and asked Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain to take instructions on the matter.

Jain urged the court to empower them for two weeks to reserve 80 per cent ICU beds for COVID-19 patients in selected 33 hospitals in the current scenario when over 8,000 patients are being added every day.

He told the court that in Central Delhi, six hospitals are included in the category of 33 hospitals, which were asked to reserve ICU beds for COVID-19 patients and due to doctor strike, Hindu Rao was not in the list. He also apprised that Radha Soami Satsang Beas in Chhatarpur is a COVID care centre, not an ICU centre.

Further steps are being taken and a notification was issued to ensure that even if one COVID bed is available, private hospitals will not refuse admission to COVID patients, Jain said.

He informed the court 33 hospitals were chosen due to the largest chunk of ICU beds — 2,217 beds were available with these selected hospitals as the remaining hospitals have lesser number of ICU beds and absence of facility for segregation.

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Image Source: Digpu

These 33 hospitals are the preferred choice of people as most of the people preferred Max, Gangaram and Apollo Hospitals, Jain told the court.

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, who was representing the Association of Healthcare Providers, raised objection to the submissions and said that cannot be allowed. He told the court that without any compulsion of the order 60-70 per cent beds are being given to COVID patients and the private hospitals cannot deny ICU beds to a similarly critical non-COVID patient.

Singh also pointed out what will happen if any non-Covid patient died due to this reservation policy. However, the court asked if any non-patients died because of denial of bed. Singh replied that there is a possibility.

Earlier, a single-judge bench had stayed the order passed by the Delhi government instructing private hospitals in Delhi to reserve 80 per cent of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients, while hearing a petition moved by the Association of Healthcare Providers India.