New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the city government to ensure that all medical equipment in its hospitals are functional and explain the "apparent" drop in its expenditure on hospitals.
A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan, who was hearing a PIL initiated by high court on its own in 2017 concerning the issue of non-availability of ICU beds and ventilator facility in government hospitals here, asked the health secretary of Delhi government to join the proceedings on Wednesday.
"We intend to pass an order that secretary health (of Delhi) shall ensure that all equipment installed in hospitals are functional within a month. CT scan (in GTB Hospital) was non-functional for last six months for so," said the bench, also comprising Justice Manmeet PS Arora.
"Secretary (Health), GNCTD is directed to join virtually," the court said.
The court also noted that as per an affidavit filed by the Delhi government, the "budget expenditure" in respect of its hospitals went down from around Rs 3,500 crore in 2022-2023 to around Rs 2,800 crore in 2023-2024.
Justice Manmohan remarked that the report was "incomplete" as it did not deal with the estimated "demand" for healthcare services and there was a "huge shortfall" in the latest budget numbers.
"This affidavit is incomplete. You must tell the demand (to determine whether there is shortfall in supply). It is apparent that spending in hospitals has gone down...Rs 700 crore shortfall is a huge shortfall. Rs 700 crore shortfall on hospitals will take its toll," remarked the court.
The court asked the government counsel to take instructions on "why spending on hospitals has gone down and whether any money is diverted to some other planned event of yours".
The court also asserted that any unspent money from the budget should not "go waste" with the closing of the financial year and must be spent on the concerns raised in the proceedings.
"There will be unspent budget. Please ensure that it is spent on these kinds of issues. Money should not go waste," it said.
Earlier this month, the high court had expressed its concerns over lack of medical infrastructure for critical care patients in government hospitals here and after being informed about an incident in which a man who jumped out of a moving PCR van died after denial of medical treatment by four government hospitals.
The court was informed that the death was due to denial of treatment by three Delhi government hospitals and one Central government hospital here on various pretexts including non-availability of ICU/ ventilator bed or CT scan.
The deceased was stated to have been taken to Delhi government’s Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and Lok Nayak Hospital and the Centre’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
The central government counsel Monday said he would file a report with respect to its hospital while emphasising that private hospitals were not the best comparisons for government hospitals.
"But your equipment must be working. Then what sort of a hospital is it (if the machines don't work)," responded the court.
The counsel added that those responsible must be held accountable.
Amicus curiae and advocate Ashok Agarwal said there were no ICU beds in nine Delhi government hospitals and medical equipment were non-functional.
The court orally said it would direct a joint enquiry into the matter by the officials of both the Centre and Delhi government.
"Make sure all equipment is working. You are spending thousands and you're not getting anything. Machines must start working," added the court.
In a response filed in the matter, the Centre said it has no objection in principle to the establishment of a central portal to provide real-time information on the availability of beds and that there were several ICU beds in its hospitals. PTI ADS ADS KVK KVK