2020-07-16 18:41:00

BENGALURU: Tension between private hospitals and the Karnataka government may boil over as the former has written to the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST), the nodal agency for settlement of claims, expressing its inability to allot 50% of its total bed strength for state-run covid-19 treatment.

This comes a day after the Private Hospitals & Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) in Bengaluru issued statements expressing concern over the shortage of beds for non-covid-19 treatment. This was met with sharp criticism and a warning from Karnataka’s medical education minister who threatened to take over all private hospitals if they continue to refuse admission to covid-19 patients or give up the mandated number of beds.

The deadlock between the two key players required to fight the rising cases of covid-19 adds to the mounting challenges for Karnataka, particularly Bengaluru, that has seen a sharp surge in cases. The state government is attempting to fix all chinks in its covid-19 response system but its inability to even iron out differences with private hospitals raises doubts on its preparedness to deal with the surge of cases ahead.

“At any given point in time in any hospital, we can earmark 50% of the beds for covid care and the government can take half of this and not out of the total capacity or the system will collapse,” Dr Prasanna H.M., the president elect of PHANA said.

He said PHANA has a total of around 10,500 hospital beds and it is willing to set aside half of this for covid care that includes the share of the government and its own walk-in patients. But the government, he claims, is insisting on 50% of the total capacity that would make the proposal very unsustainable due to the differences in business models and rise of non-covid deaths due to non-availability of beds for treatment. He adds that there are no beds for walk-in patients who are taxpayers since the government is aiming to allocate everything to others.

He said there is no facility to treat non-covid-19 patients in government hospitals and private players cannot because there are no beds available.

“Government has to understand how things work and cant be so adamant,” he said.

He adds that covid-19 treatment is also taking away a significant portion of its staff strength as well a threat of these personnel also contracting the virus.

The government downplayed the developments that threaten to further compound the health crisis and deepening economic distress due to the lockdown in Bengaluru. Delays in hospital bed allocation has led to death of serious patients and has added to other growing challenges like backlogs in testing and lack of contact tracing which had led to Karnataka losing ground which it had earlier gained in its battle against the virus. Similar efforts to take over control of private hospitals in Delhi and Mumbai have since been recalled, PHANA claims.

“Things take time to settle and it will all be done in the matter of a few days,” said one official from the SAST, the nodal agency for settlement of claims.

The state government had ordered the closure of out-patient department for 48 hours at Vikram Hospital and Apollo Hospital for refusing admission and not giving up the mandated number of beds to the government. Earlier, 18 private hospitals were served similar notices. It has also served notices to private medical college labs for not setting up laboratories for covid-19 testing.

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