Out of 10,313 beds for COVID-19 patients in government hospitals in West Bengal, 8,225 are vacant, according to new data the state is sharing from today to streamline information about availability of hospital beds and spare patients and their families the trauma of being turned away by hospitals.
The information is being shared on the West Bengal's health department website.
From tomorrow onwards, private hospitals will also be sharing the number of vacant COVID beds. A total of 1,000 beds have been kept aside in state's private hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
The state government wants the data on beds to be updated every hour.
The state government's decision comes at a time when the Supreme Court has pulled up four states, including Bengal, for allegedly mismanaging the COVID-19 situation. The other states are Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
Even though the discharge percentage in Bengal is encouraging at 54.97 per cent, the number of covid positive cases is rising and stands at 5,216 today. The state recorded 435 cases and 12 deaths in the last 24 hours.
"It is a shame that a senior doctor had to go to ten different hospitals in Kolkata before he could find a bed for himself," Mamata Banerjee said yesterday after a meeting with several doctor's groups and officials of the health department.
Bengal's rate of occupancy of COVID-19 beds is at 20.25 per cent.
Today, chief secretary Rajiva Sinha met with private hospitals to discuss cheaper COVID-19 tests and rationalised cost of treatment. He said, "Under the Clinical Establishment Act of 2017, private hospitals can't turn away patients with infectious diseases."
"Hospitals must treat life-threatening cases without delay, without waiting for COVID-19 test results, which take about 24 hours," Mr Sinha said.
The chief secretary also raised the cost of treatment of COVID patients with the private hospitals, urging them to rationalise. "You can't pass the cost of things such as PPE to the patient entirely," Mr Sinha said.
On COVID-19 tests, he said Bengal has not put any cap on cost, except the ICMR cap of Rs 4,500. But, costs should be reduced, he added.
The state government is encouraging home isolation of mild or asymptomatic patients with medical supervision. Mr Sinha said private hospitals should offer financial packages for monitoring of patients opting to stay at home. The chief secretary also said junior doctors must be paid their salaries.