The Supreme Court inquired the Centre if it intends to formulate a national policy to serve as admission guidelines for all hospitals on Friday in view of the arbitrary and unjust treatment meted out by hospitals to patients in matters of admission.
The Bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud, L. Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat inquired the Centre regarding the time-frame of the policy to be and if the states/UT’s, medical fraternity and other stakeholders have been consulted in the framing of the policy.
“Some hospitals insist on COWIN app registration for hospital admission … In Delhi, you need the SDM’s sign in order to be admitted in a hospital. Your Lordships have held the right to medical facilities is a fundamental right and it cannot be denied by this bureaucracy.” Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave urged informing the bench the need for a uniform policy for admission to hospitals in all states.
Advocate Yatin Oza pointed out that two patients had died outside a hospital in Gujarat as they were not admitted on account of not arriving in ‘108’ ambulance service.
Further, Advocate Sachin Patil pointed out that 30% of the test reports are wrong and people are not being admitted for treatment in hospitals even though they have all the symptoms of Covid.
Next, the Bench had indicated to the Centre that many Covid treatment facilities are demanding a positive Covid-19 report for admission which has become an issue due to the delay in processing the test reports.
The Court had also pointed out that the existing RT-PCR tests are failing to pick up on the new variants and strains of Covid.
In regard to the admission of persons to hospitals from other states, SG Tushar said, “It is personally my stand and also that of the government that citizens cannot be denied medical help only because they cannot produce proof residency in that district or state. It is the right of the citizen to get treatment wherever it is found and this right is not resident-specific. I assure Your Lordship that rules will be made in this behalf.”
Noting that some Covid centres are charging high amounts before admission, the Bench has asked the Centre regarding how the prices are being regulated and if such task is being undertaken by the Central Government or has been left to the discretion of the respective states and UT’s.
The Court has asked the Centre on how it proposes to deal with the preference being given to Covid patients over others and the patients not infected with Covid who are not being admitted in hospitals.
“How are the Centre and the States/UT’s ensuring communication of up-to-date information as regards to the number of beds vacant in Covid treatment centres in all districts? Are there helplines in place?”, the Court inquired.
The Bench has also questioned the Centre in regard to the attempts being made to set up and regulate temporary Covid treatment centres and if such centres are equipped to treat even serious Covid patients or only those with a mild or moderate case of the infection.
Further, the Bench asked if such centres are being established by the states and the UT’s to ensure that they meet the requisite standards.