The Supreme Court, which has been hearing a number of petitions regarding streamlining of healthcare services amid the coronavirus pandemic, today directed all states to fix a reasonable rate for providing ambulance services to Covid patients.
Expressing concern over the increase in instances of ambulance service providers overcharging Covid patients, the top court also said the state governments should also ensure that there are a sufficient number of ambulances available in each district to take Covid patients to hospitals.
"States are bound to carry out the advisory issued by the Centre to deal with pandemic," said the Supreme Court, which had earlier directed the Centre to cap COVID-19 testing charges in various states. However, it had refused to fix an upper ceiling on the cost of Covid treatment in private hospitals across the country, saying the state of mediacl health infrastructure differed from state to state and that the central government must come up with a solution.
The order was given by a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan on a petition seeking directions to increase number of ambulances for Covid patients.
It is expected to bring relief to hundreds of coronavirus patients who are being charged exorbitant amounts by private ambulance service providers as most state-run ambulance services struggle to improve their fleet.
There have been numerous reports highlighting how specifically Covid patients are being charged thousands of rupess even for short distances.
Recently, in a case from Pune, the district administration had filed a case against an ambulance service provider charging a coronavirus patient Rs 8,000 for a seven-km ride on June 25.
While the government machinery has been taking action against private service providers at the local level, there is no uniform policy across states.
India saw a record single-day surge in coronavirus cases and the fatalities linked to the highly infectious disease with 96,551 new infections and 1,209 deaths registered in the last 24 hours, taking the tally past 45 lakh, the government data showed this morning.