SC asks Centre, States to set up expert panel for monitoring of COVID hospitals
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday directed the Centre and States to set up expert panel for effective monitoring, supervision, and guidance of government and COVID dedicated hospitals for providing proper health care to the patients.
The apex court also directed the Union government to bring uniformity in charges of testing and other facilities and ordered it to constitute an expert committee of senior doctors of Central government hospitals, GNCTD run hospitals, AIIMS and responsible officer from Union health ministry.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah, which took up the matter for hearing through video conferencing, issued slew of directions in the case taken suo motu cognizance on the proper treatment of COVID-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in the hospitals.
It said that the expert committee 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 and the panel shall ensure that at least one visit in each hospital be done weekly.
“The team may in addition to normal inspection shall also conduct surprise visits to assess the preparedness of the hospitals. The expert team as indicated after visiting may issue necessary instructions for improvement to the hospital concerned and also forward its report to the Government of NCT of Delhi and the Union of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” the bench said in its 17-page order.
It further directed that all States shall also constitute an expert team of doctors and other experts for inspection, supervision and guidance of Government hospitals and other hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 in each State who may inspect, supervise the hospitals in the State and issue necessary directions for the improvement to the concerned hospital and report to the Government.
“Chief Secretary of each State shall ensure that such Committees are immediately constituted and start their works within a period of seven days,” the bench said.
The top court noted that Centre has constituted a Committee of Niti Ayog member Dr. V.K. Paul, representatives of the AIIMS and Delhi government, to assess the reasonable rates of various COVID related facilities/tests and on the basis of the panel's report a decision for reducing the charges of test in the NCT Delhi has been taken.
"The Union of India may issue appropriate guidelines/directions to all the States/Union Territories with regard to prescribing reasonable rates of various Covid related facilities/test etc., which need to be uniformly followed by all concerned. In case, with regard to any particular State/Union Territory, there is any difference, the same may be specifically noticed and directed accordingly,” the bench said.
The top court said, “The Union of India, Ministry of Home Affairs may issue appropriate directions in exercise of power under Disaster Management Act, 2005 to all States/Union Territories to uniformly follow the revised discharge policy dated May 8, 2020 with regard to discharge of different categories of patients as categorised in the revised discharge policy.”
The bench also issued directions with regard to the patient care and said, “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”.
The top court welcomed the steps taken by LNJP hospital here with regard to installation of CCTV cameras in all the wards and said it would not only help the hospital management to immediately find out the requirement of proper care with regard to patients admitted in the wards but also ensure transparency in the patients care in the hospital.
“Footage from the CCTV Cameras shall be made available by the hospitals in NCT of Delhi to the inspecting/supervising expert team or to any other authority or body as per directions of the Union of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for screening the footage and issuing necessary directions thereon,” it added.
It said that in Government hospitals of GNCT, Delhi which are COVID dedicated hospitals, where CCTV cameras have not been installed, steps shall be taken to install CCTV Cameras in the wards.
“The Chief Secretaries of other States shall also take steps regarding installation of CCTV Cameras in COVID dedicated hospitals where COVID patients are taking treatment 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,” the bench said.
The top court took exception to the reply filed by Delhi government and said, "The affidavit tries to give an impression to the Court that everything in the Government hospital in NCT, Delhi is well, and all steps are being taken by the Government of NCT of Delhi. When the Government does not endeavour to know any shortcomings or lapses in its hospitals and patient care, the chances of remedial action and improvement becomes dim,” the bench said.
It said, “every organisation, every individual should be more than ready to know about shortcomings, lapses and it is only after knowing one's shortcomings and deficiencies, remedial actions can be taken”.