The Delhi High Court was informed on Tuesday that the Delhi government has reduced the reservation of COVID-19 ICU beds in private hospitals in Delhi to 25 per cent, from 40 per cent earlier.
Justice Navin Chawla listed the matter for further hearing on February 2, after the counsel for petitioner Association of Healthcare Providers said he is waiting for instructions from member hospitals on this development and sought some time.
The organisation has sought quashing of the government's September 12, 2020 order to reserve 80 per cent ICU beds for COVID-19 patients in 33 private hospitals which are its members.
The reservation percentage has been gradually reduced by the government after reviewing the pandemic situation. With the COVID-19 infection number reaching at its peak of over 8,000 in a day in November, 2020 in Delhi, the numbers are now declining and 161 fresh cases were recorded on January 18, 2021.
Advocate Sanyam Khetarpal, representing the petitioner, informed the court that the government has issued an order on January 15 reducing the reservation to 25 percent in hospitals which have over 100 beds.
He said he requires some time to get instructions from the member hospitals on this.
As per the government's order, a review meeting was held by the competent authority on January 15, in which the data with respect to pattern of COVID-19 beds and COVID-19 ICU beds occupancy on that date in 115 private hospitals providing coronavirus treatment was analysed.
Keeping in view the low occupancy of COVID-19 beds/ ICU beds in the private hospitals, it was decided in the review meeting to further lower reservation of the total bed capacity from 30 per cent to 15 per cent, and of ICU beds from 40 per cent to 25 per cent of the total bed capacity in 45 hospitals having more than 100 beds and providing coronavirus related treatment, the government order said.
It was also decided in the meeting that other 70 hospitals which have up to 100 beds shall have the option of reserving COVID-19 beds/ ICU beds there.
Earlier, the Delhi government counsel had said not a single non-COVID-19 patient has come to the court that he was denied treatment in the hospital due to 80 per cent of ICU beds reserved for COVID-19 patients.
He had stated that not even a single private hospital has approached the high court claiming that they suffered financial loss due to this reservation order.
The petitioner organisation's counsel had contended that ICU beds were kept vacant and even no payment was made by the government to the hospitals which were facing financial losses.
He had further argued that there was no validity or permissibility to continue with the September 12, 2020 order.
The Delhi government had told the high court that it has decided to de-escalate to 60 per cent the number of ICU beds reserved for COVID-19 patients in 33 private hospitals in Delhi as was recommended by a De-escalation Committee.
The September 12, 2020 order of the Delhi government was earlier stayed by the high court on September 22 last year. However, a division of the high court on November 12, 2020 vacated the stay order taking into account the change in circumstances since the time the stay order was passed.
The petitioner association had told the high court that the 33 private hospitals are its members and the Delhi government's order shall be quashed as it was passed in an irrational manner and is ex-facie perverse.
The government, however, had contended that the situation of COVID-19 infection in Delhi has become critical recently and the COVID-19 cases are spiralling and it was critical that 80 per cent of ICU / HDU beds be reserved for COVID-19 patients in the 33 private hospitals.
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