Private hospitals can't turn away COVID patients: CM
New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday warned of strong action against private hospitals allegedly refusing admission to COVID-19 patients and indulging in "black-marketing" of beds.
The Delhi government will depute medical professionals in each private hospital to ensure patients are aware of beds available and they are admitted without any hassles, he said.
His government is going to issue an order that no hospitals will refuse admission to suspected COVID-19 patients and that it will be their responsibility to test and treat such persons, Kejriwal said in a virtual media briefing.
Most of the private hospitals in Delhi are good but some of them are demanding money for beds which is nothing but "black-marketing", Kejriwal said.
"We are calling and meeting the heads of all these hospitals since yesterday (Friday) and they are being told that there will be no negotiations in the treatment of people in their hospitals as they have to admit the people who are in need.
"We will take strong action against such hospitals and they cannot refuse patients. Some time will be needed to break the mafia who are indulging in it. These few hospitals have political approach but they should not be under the illusion that their political masters can save them," he said.
The government is talking to owners of private hospitals to determine their problems in reserving 20 per cent of their beds for COVID-19 patients, he said.
Private hospitals are a critical part of the city's health infrastructure and the Delhi government acknowledges their role, he added.
"There are some private hospitals which are resorting to such means. First, they say they don't have bed and when patients insist, they demand a huge amount. Isn't this black-marketing of beds?" he asked.
The chief minister said the Delhi government had to face a backlash from hospitals for providing the information on the availability of beds and ventilators on an app launched on Tuesday.
He said till Tuesday, 2,800 Coronavirus patients were in hospitals, mostly run by the Delhi government. The number of patients admitted to hospitals now stands at 3,900, indicating that the capacity is being filled by private hospitals and people are making use of the 'Delhi Corona' app.
"We thought that if the information on the availability of beds and ventilators is made transparent, people will get to know everything about this," he said.
Kejriwal said some hospitals are lying about the availability of beds. "False refusal cannot be tolerated and admitting Coronavirus patients is non-negotiable," he said.
The chief minister also rubbished claims that COVID-19 tests have been stopped in Delhi, and asserted that the number of tests conducted in the city is the highest in the country. Currently, 36 government and private labs are doing the tests. The action was taken against six labs for irregularities, he said.
He, however, said the testing capacity is limited and it will be overwhelmed if everyone went for the test, adding that asymptomatic persons should not go for it.
"There are flu clinics of Delhi government hospitals and some private ones, there are COVID centres where you can go for test. Even today, 5300 samples were tested," he said.
The Delhi government's priority, for now, is to save lives, he added.
Meanwhile, Delhi government hospitals have been directed to procure and stock "sufficient supplies" of medical equipment like personal protection equipment kits and oxygen masks for at least the next three months.