Updated: June 9, 2020 1:50:14 am
The Delhi government Monday told the Delhi High Court that if hospitals “refused to admit a patient with symptoms of Covid-19 in spite of beds” being available, the aggrieved person can lodge a complaint on the government’s toll-free number 1031.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan was informed that on a complaint being made, it is “immediately forwarded to the Special Secretary (H&FW) who discusses the matter with the erring hospital/s and helps in getting the patient/s admitted”.
The bench was hearing a PIL initiated on its own on the basis of a video-clip, showing a man struggling to find a hospital bed for his Covid-19 positive mother due to unresponsive helplines.
Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra and its Additional Standing Counsel Anuj Aggarwal, while placing their affidavit, stated that the state’s efforts were hobbled by the ‘inaccurate data’ provided by ICMR.
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“There are district-wise ground teams assigned for effective surveillance of corona. Each district has a DSO (district surveillance officer) supported by a medical team to reach out to patients by making calls or home visits to assess whether they need home-quarantine or are required to be sent to the hospitals or a nearby quarantine-centre.”
“Since the model operates district-wise, the district allocation needs to be precise and correct. Majority of the district-wise distribution data that Delhi receives from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is incorrect, resulting in inordinate delay in geo-station mapping carried out by authorities/ agencies.
“Thus, there is usually a delay caused in contacting the patient who has tested positive after he has received the lab report and in the meantime, patients tend to panic. The new helpline is aimed to cater to such patients only, especially during the first 24 to 36 hours, who have tested positive but are scared yet clueless as to what should be their next/desired course of action. The said helpline would help them resolve issues pertaining to availability of ambulance/s and free medical consultation with a doctor,” it added.
Central government Standing Counsel Kirtiman Singh filed a status report on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, stating that the central toll-free helpline 1075 was set up to answer Covid-19 related queries of citizens of India.
“Central helpline is integrated with state call centre and more than 20 states/UTs state call centre are integrated with 1075 so far…,” the status report said.
“The 1075 helpline is a 24/7 functional call centre and 27,54,808 calls have been received as on May 31, 2020. 24,75,215 calls have been answered, 2,79,593 call have been dropped, the average time is 02:42 minutes, average waiting time is 00:11 seconds and numbers of nodes (PRI Channels) are 270.
“Similarly, more than 22 lakh calls have been forwarded to state call centre through auto call forwarded mechanism,” it added.
The Centre, in their status report, highlighted that “on an average, 60% of dropped calls were disconnected by the caller before 5 seconds. An additional 24% were disconnected before 7 seconds. Excluding both, the abandon rate would be less than 1.6%”.
Taking note of contentions made by the Centre and the Delhi government, Delhi government’s additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal said the bench has issued several directions, including that testing be done as far as possible for all patients after keeping in mind the priority-categories suggested by doctors.
Aggarwal said the bench also directed that the issue of delay in contacting the patients by the state/district authorities be addressed in consultation with ICMR.
He further said the bench directed the Centre and GNCTD to ensure that data on beds and ventilators availability in hospitals under their respective jurisdictions is updated real-time, and action taken against hospitals that don’t update their data.
Order in the matter is awaited.
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