Delhi govt. defends decision on bed reservation for COVID-19 patients

‘Policy decision taken with an intent to mitigate surge of virus cases in Delhi’

The Delhi government on Thursday defended before the Delhi High Court its decision directing 33 private hospitals to reserve 80% of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients. It said the policy decision was taken as a stop-gap measure with an intent to mitigate the surge of virus cases in the national capital.

In an affidavit filed before Justice Navin Chawla, the Delhi government denied that the decision, which was stayed by the High Court on September 22, was in violation of any fundamental right of the citizens of Delhi and termed the petition by ‘Association of Healthcare Providers’ as “wholly misplaced and baseless”.

The High Court granted one week time to the petitioner association, which claims that the 33 private hospitals against whom the order was passed are its members and sought to quash the order to reserve 80% ICU beds for COVID-19 patients, to file response to the Delhi government’s affidavit.

The High Court will hear the case on November 18.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain representing the government said there is a prediction that in the upcoming festive season, the number of COVID-19 cases will go up.

The affidavit contended that the petitioner association was looking to secure the financial interests of its member hospitals under the garb of expressing masked concerns over securing healthcare facilities for non-COVID-19 patients to be able to levy arbitrary and exorbitant medical treatment fee and other such charges from critical COVID-19 patients.

The Delhi government said several other States like Maharashtra and Odisha have also taken similar steps and put in place similar measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government said when the emergency meeting was convened by it on September 12, out of 33 private hospitals, 25 participated in it and none of them raised any protest or objection to the decision of the authorities to reserve the ICU beds.

The government said the petition is an attempt to seriously imperil its pandemic management efforts and actually jeopardises the interests of hundreds of COVID-19 patients who have availed of the benefit of the order and secured ICU beds in private hospitals at capped rates.

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