THE Supreme Court of India on Friday heard a suo motu case pertaining to lapses in care of COVID-19 patients at different hospitals in the National Capital Territory of Delhi and other States. The three-judge bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and M R Shah issued a slew of directions to redeem the miseries of patients and the public that needs medical care. It noted the need for continuous supervision and monitoring of government hospitals, COVID-19 dedicated hospitals, and other hospitals taking care of COVID management.
Monitoring in NCT, Delhi and by Union Government
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shall constitute Expert Committees consisting of:
a) Senior Doctors from Central Government hospitals in Delhi,
b) Doctors from GNCTD hospitals or other hospitals of Delhi Government,
c) Doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences,
d) A responsible officer from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The Expert Committee, according to the court, shall inspect, supervise, and issue necessary directions to all Government hospitals, COVID hospitals, and other hospitals in NCT of Delhi taking care of COVID patients. The court added that the Expert Committees shall ensure one visit to each hospital every week. Further, in addition to normal inspection, the team must conduct a surprise visit to assess preparedness. Following these visits, the team has been empowered to issue necessary directions for improvements. The report must be submitted to the Government of Delhi and the Union Health Ministry.
Monitoring by State Government
On the above lines, the bench ordered all States to constitute an expert team of Doctors and other experts for inspection of Government hospitals and other hospitals dedicated to COVID in each State. These committees can issue necessary directions for the improvement to the concerned hospital and report to the Government. The Chief Secretary of each State shall ensure that such Committees are immediately constituted and start their works within a period of seven days.
The court has also directed all states to install CCTV Cameras in COVID dedicated hospitals to facilitate the management of such patients and for the screening of the footage by designated authorities or bodies so that remedial action may be suggested and ensured.
Further, it said that all COVID-dedicated hospitals shall permit one willing attendant of the patient in the hospital premise, who can remain in an area earmarked by the hospital. All COVID dedicated hospitals shall create a helpdesk accessible physically as well as by telephone from where well being of patients admitted in the hospitals can be enquired.
The court directed that the Central Government may issue directions to all States/Union Territories to uniformly follow its policy dated May 8 for the discharge of different categories of patients.
Lastly, the court took note that the Centre had constituted a Committee of Dr. V.K. Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, representatives of AIIMS, and representative of GNCTD. The same has submitted its report regarding reasonable rates of various COVID related facilities and tests. Based on this report, the Government of India has already taken a decision to reduce the cost of testing in NCT Delhi. The court, therefore, directed the Centre to consider issuing appropriate guidelines and directions to all the States/Union Territories for uniform implementation of such reasonable rates.