The Supreme Court Tuesday observed that “elderly people should be given priority” in admissions in government hospitals considering their vulnerability to Covid-19. It also said that pension to the elderly should be disbursed on time and caregivers in old age homes across the country be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic.
“In event of any complaint made by the elderly people, the hospital administration concerned shall take immediate steps to remedy their grievances,” a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and also comprising Justice R Subhash Reddy said after former Union minister Ashwani Kumar told the court that the elderly are not getting priority in government hospitals irrespective of their capacity to pay for treatment.
Kumar, on whose plea the court on December 13, 2018, issued certain directions regarding the elderly population, Tuesday highlighted the need for care and protection for this section during the pandemic. He submitted that the older people living alone are the worst sufferers and not able to get medicines, masks, sanitizers and other essential goods. He also pointed out that caregivers of these people are untrained and not equipped with PPEs.
Taking note, the SC directed “that all old age people who are eligible for pension should be regularly paid pension and those identified older people should be provided necessary medicines, masks, sanitizers and other essential goods by respective States”. “As and when any individual request is made, the same shall be attended to by the Administration with all promptness,” it said.
The bench ordered that “caregivers of… old age homes should be provided personal protection and appropriate sanitization should also be undertaken in the old age homes”. It asked states to reply to the averments made in Kumar’s application within four weeks.
Hearing Kumar’s petition, the SC had in 2018 said some of the government schemes for the old “are comparatively dated” and “it is high time that the Government of India has a relook at these schemes and perhaps overhaul them with a view to bring about convergence and avoid multiplicity”.