The Karnataka government on Wednesday warned private hospitals trying to manipulate availability of hospital beds for treatment of covid-19 patients, that puts the two key stakeholders required to control the spread of the pandemic on a collision course.
While the association of private medical hospitals said that it has a shortage of beds to treat non-covid patients, medical education minister K.Sudhakar said that it is “unfortunate” that the former was making contradictory statements.
“Please try to understand and don’t try to dictate to the government,” Sudhkar said.
His note of warning comes in response to a press conference held by the Private Hospitals & Nursing Homes Association (PHANA)-Karnataka in which it claimed that it was facing a shortage of beds to treat non-covid-19 patients.
The clash comes at a time when Karnataka appears to be rapidly losing grip over the pandemic and has relapsed into a lockdown in Bengaluru to make up for the lack of concrete solutions it has on offer for the problem.
The statement comes a day after the Karnataka government slapped notices and ordered the closure of the Out-Patient Department for 48 hours in Vikram hospital and Apollo private hospital for refusing admission and not giving up the mandated amount of beds to the government.
“Don’t get into a fighting scenario. Ultimately the government has every right under Epidemics act to take over (private hospitals) and ensure all the covid patients and non-covid patients get their due share and treatment done,” Sudhakar warned, not mincing his words.
“With majority of beds earmarked for treating covid-19 patients, treatment for non covid patients is going to be a challenge and there should be a rethink on the government’s policy of allocation of 50 percent of the beds for Covid-19,” PHANA said in a statement on Wednesday.
The government claims that private hospitals have over 15,000 beds that were not taken over by the government.
Bengaluru has been rapidly losing the battle against the pandemic and its mortality rate has been climbing up. The unwillingness of private hospitals to give up mandated number of beds has exacerbated the problems.
Sudhakar had earlier warned private hospitals of serious consequences if they overcharge patients or refusing admission.
He even mentioned that one private hospital (Columbia Asia) had given an estimate of ₹9.09 lakhs for 10 days to one patient that attracted huge outrage among the public and government.
In a statement on Wednesday, the management of Columbia Asia said that it had acted as per hospital protocols.
“As per hospital protocols, patients are provided with an estimate for the treatment. The
final bill is based on the exact treatment undertaken by the patient which may be much
lower than the estimate,” the hospital said in a statement. In another incident, 18 private hospitals were slapped with notices for refusing admission to a covid-19 patient who later died.
Sudhakar said that the Mumbai city corporation had taken over 80% of the beds at private hospitals and their prices were much higher than that of Karnataka.