April 17, 2020 11:56:22 pm
The Centre and the Delhi government Friday informed the Delhi High Court that they are taking every possible step to ensure that non-COVID patients are provided with adequate attention and treatment at the hospitals.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in a written note before a Bench of Justices J R Midha and Justice Jyoti Singh, said it is “fully sensitive to the requirements of treatment for non-Covid illnesses, other than COVID-19, especially those that are life-threatening or cause prolonged suffering.”
It further said, “In order to ensure full implementation of these guidelines, the central government has written a DO letter to the Chief Secretaries of all the state governments to maintain non-COVID essential services like those for maternal, newborn and child care, dialysis, tuberculosis, HIV, maintenance of voluntary blood donation etc.”
The note added that the Union Health Minister has held a video conference with the Delhi Lieutenant Governor and Health Minister on April 17 to review the arrangements for treatment of non-COVID-19 patients at AIIMS and other hospitals of the capital.
It further stated that a “four-member committee has been constituted by the Directorate General of Health Sciences (DGHS) to conduct surprise visits at all central government institutes in Delhi. The Committee will check and submit a report, within a week, to the DGHS, whether non-COVID patients are being attended in these hospitals. The visits are being started immediately and are to be repeated twice a month.”
“Similarly, Regional Directors of Health Services are being directed to hold such surprise visits in other States,” it said, adding the “Government of India is writing to all states for creating a special WhatsApp number for grievance redressal in respect of complaints, if any, regarding treatment of non-COVID patients. The states are being asked to widely publicize these numbers, including on their websites.”
Delhi government’s Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam apprised the court that there is already an order in place and they are “committed to ensure that no one suffers due to the pandemic”.
“It is submitted that every effort is being made to address the grievance of the patients. In case of any difficulty faced by a patient, the medical superintendent of the hospital/nursing Home be approached in the first instance.
“In case, the Superintendent is unable to resolve the grievance, the control room of the Delhi government may be approached by the aggrieved persons…”, it said.
Both governments were responding to a PIL seeking direction to “treat the patients of other diseases also and direct the hospitals, both government and private, as well as doctors to run their clinics, as it is an essential life-saving service”.
During the hearing of a PIL by Yash Aggarwal and Chitrakshi, through video-conferencing, the court was of the view that the authorities should have a dedicated helpline number for such patients.
The plea claimed that some “hospitals are denying treatment or even entry in hospital premises if they are having high body temperature when tested on the entry gate.”
The Ministry also informed the High Court that “telemedicine guidelines have also been issued. A citizen-friendly web-based teleconsultation ‘e-Sanjeevani OPD’ (e-Sanjeevaniopd ) that aims to provide healthcare services to patients through safe and structured video-based clinical consultations between a doctor in a hospital and a patient in the confines of his home has been developed.”
Taking note of the government’s note, the court is yet to pass a detailed order.
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