THE DELHI High Court Monday issued notice to the Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI) and the Centre in an appeal filed by Delhi government against the stay ordered by a single bench on its decision to reserve 80% of ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in 33 major private hospitals.
While declining to vacate the stay at this stage, the court also did not accede to an oral request for clarification that willing hospitals may voluntarily be allowed to choose to reserve beds for Covid patients in accordance with the government order.
The division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan asked the state government to apprise it whether sufficient number of ICU beds would be available for non-Covid patients after the state order and how compensation will be given to the private hospitals for keeping ICU beds vacant for Covid patients. The case will be heard again on October 9.
“The difficulty is only whether we are blinding ourselves to the needs of other patients,” observed the court, as it asked the state about the total number of ICU beds in Delhi, the number reserved for Covid and non-Covid patients, and about the occupancy of such beds in both categories.
The government’s September 12 order instructing hospitals to reserve ICU beds was stayed by a single bench last week, with the observation that the state cannot discriminate between Covid and non-Covid patients. The single bench intervened in a petition filed by AHPI.
In the appeal before the division bench against the stay, the government has argued that its order does not take away anyone’s right to be treated for other ailments and that it was issued keeping in view the unprecedented rise of Covid cases in Delhi.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain submitted before the court that there are 1,170 private hospitals and nursing homes in the capital and the order passed by the state is restricted to only 33 hospitals. He said it takes very little time for a moderate patient to become a severe patient and require an ICU bed for care of different organs.
The hospitals participated in a Zoom meeting and most of them agreed with the decision, the court was told.
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