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HC appoints expert panel to deal with infra, manpower issues at Delhi govt, MCD hospitals

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New Delhi, Feb 13 (PTI) Stating that machines, medicines and manpower are "woefully inadequate" in Delhi government and MCD hospitals, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday constituted a six-member expert committee to examine these issues and place a monthly report before it.

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A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan remarked that authorities vested with the power to run, administer and manage the hospitals in Delhi "are not on the same page", and without critical infrastructure, the "golden hour" of saving a life may be lost.

The court said the provision of quality medical services is crucial for the health and well being of any city and to ensure a robust public health system is an obligation of the State.

"This court is of the view that huge investments along with structural reforms in the functioning of government hospitals, without entering into a blame game, are the need of the hour to overcome years of neglect and apathy which can only be done if there is a consensus on measures to be adopted both in the short and long term," the bench, also comprising Justice Maneet PS Arora, said.

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"It is apparent that the infrastructure, (be it in the form of machines, medicines or manpower) is woefully inadequate at Delhi hospitals... Since this field is an extremely specialised area that requires subject experience and domain knowledge, this court deems it expedient to appoint a committee of experts that shall consider the matter in detail and place their recommendation/report on record," the court ordered.

The court constituted the committee under the chairmanship of Dr S K Sarin, chancellor of the ILBS.

The other members of the committee are Dr Nikhil Tandon, professor and head of the department of endocrinology and metabolism, AIIMS; Dr D K Sharma, MS, Dr. R P Eye Centre, AIIMS; Dr Suresh Kumar, director, LNJP Hospital; Dr Piyush Gupta, professor of paediatrics and principal, University College of Medical Sciences; and Dr Deepak K Tempe, vice chancellor, ILBS.

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In its order, the court said the committee would suggest ways for the optimisation of existing resources in "various hospitals located in Delhi, which are either owned by the Government of NCT including Delhi government autonomous hospitals or MCD".

The court took "judicial notice" of the fact that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) finds it difficult to pay salaries and pension to its employees and although the 7th Pay Commission has come into force, the benefit of the enhanced pay or pension has not been given to MCD employees.

"Consequently, this court is of the view that it is very unlikely that the MCD has the wherewithal to make huge investment in the infrastructure of eight hospitals under its management," the court observed.

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According to the order, the committee would also suggest ways for the establishment of a control room to show real-time information on availability of beds, maintaining high-end medical equipment and filling the vacant posts.

It added that the committee would also suggest ways and means to reduce the stress on referral hospitals by strengthening the peripheral hospitals located in the various districts of Delhi and also suggest an end-to-end mechanism for ensuring uninterrupted supply of medicines, injections and consumables in government hospitals.

"The committee would also make concrete suggestion on how best to augment manpower and infrastructure even if the same has to be done only on an ad-hoc basis so that the requirements of the hospital are adequately met," the court stated.

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The court requested the committee to prepare its interim report within four weeks and place the same on record for passing appropriate directions.

In making its recommendations, the committee must give primacy to the aspect of critical health care and should consider the suggestions given by the city health minister and health secretary as well as the amicus curiae, advocate Ashok Agarwal, the court said.

The court's order came on a PIL it had initiated on its own in 2017 over alleged lack of ICU beds and ventilators in government hospitals.

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The court, in the order, observed that "not much progress seems to have been made" as it noted that a man died recently after being denied treatment by three Delhi government hospitals and one run by the central government on various pretexts including non-availability of ICU or ventilator bed, or CT scan.

The court also recorded that according to the Delhi government's counsel, the bureaucracy was "not obeying" order of the health minister, an allegation specifically denied by the health secretary.

"With only six CT Scan machines being available at 19 Delhi government hospitals (which cater to a population in excess of three crore), the infrastructure needs to be ramped up manifold...It is also apparent that the authorities in whom the power is vested to run and administer and manage the hospitals in Delhi, to put it mildly, are not on the same page," the court remarked.

The health secretary informed the court that patients possessing Aadhaar cards with residential address of Delhi can get their scans done free of cost from private hospitals or clinics.

Amicus curiae Agarwal told the court that access to medical care was illusory as there were no ICU beds in nine Delhi government hospitals and medical equipments were non-functional. PTI ADS ADS ANB ANB

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