Private hospitals to not refuse patients during Durga and Kali Puja
The state clinical establishment regulatory commission has asked all private hospitals to increase the number of beds for Covid patients and not refuse any patient during Durga Puja and Kali Puja.
Also, the hospitals cannot bill a second day’s bed charge before a patient completes 24 hours’ stay and ambulances cannot charge more than Rs 3,000 to ferry patients within Calcutta and its suburbs, retired judge Ashim Kumar Banerjee, the chairperson of the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission, said on Monday.
Officials of private hospitals in the state, at a meeting with Banerjee during the day, pledged around 500 additional beds during Puja.
Banerjee asked the hospitals to have the additional beds ready by October 22 (Sashthi), said officials of private hospitals who attended the meeting. The hospitals have to submit the augmentation plans by Wednesday evening.
Doctors fear the number of Covid-19 cases in the city could rise sharply during Puja or after Puja.
Banerjee also asked the hospitals to ensure no patient was refused treatment and be more transparent in their billing procedure.
“We discussed increasing the number of Covid beds during Puja. About 30 hospitals with 150 or more beds came for the meeting. They have together pledged to increase 500 Covid beds during Puja. A good number of the additional beds will be ICU beds,” Banerjee said at a news conference after the meeting.
“No hospital should refuse a patient. In case there are no vacant beds, they should provide the patient the necessary medical aid and arrange a bed in a hospital that has vacant beds. There should not be a case of patient refusal,” Banerjee said.
He asked hospitals to not bill a second day’s bed charge till the patient spent 24 hours at a hospital.
“Suppose a patient got admitted at 6pm. Hospitals are billing one day’s bed charge till next noon. After that they are billing a new day’s bed charge. We have said you cannot do that. You can bill a second day’s bed charge only after the patient has stayed more than 24 hours in the hospital,” he said.
Several hospitals said they had already started the process to increase the Covid bed count.
“We have initiated the process. Admission of patients dips during Durga Puja. It will not be difficult to convert some non-Covid beds into Covid beds during Puja,” said Sudipto Mitra, the chief executive of Peerless Hospital.
R. Venkatesh, the eastern region director of Narayana Health, which runs the Rabindranath Tagore Institute of Cardiac Sciences, said the hospital would add 25 beds, taking the Covid bed count from 105 to 130. “We will take 7-8 days to add the beds,” said Venkatesh.
Banerjee said the commission would issue an advisory capping the ambulance charge at Rs 3,000 for ferrying patients within Calcutta and its suburbs. “The government is providing ambulances to take patients to private hospitals. The private hospitals should provide a free service to patients returning home,” he said.
The commission will issue an advisory fixing various rates like Rs 500/hour for oxygen, Rs 300 for sanitisa-tion, Rs 25/km for air-conditioned ambulances and Rs 20/km for non-air-conditioned ambulances.