The court also expressed its displeasure over the Delhi government making incorrect statement on 10 May that 250 beds in the new dedicated COVID facility in Dwarka were already operational
The Delhi High Court Tuesday expressed its displeasure over the Delhi government making an incorrect statement on 10 May that 250 beds in the new dedicated COVID facility in Dwarka — Indira Gandhi Hospital — were already operational.
“It was not fair on the part of the Delhi government to give incorrect facts,” a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said and added that “the newspapers of Saturday said 250 beds in the hospital were operationalised, but not a single bed has been occupied till date”.
The remarks were made after the Delhi government apologised for making an incorrect statement on 10 May about the COVID facility in the hospital.
The bench was informed by the Delhi government that for want of oxygen cylinders and concentrators the beds have not yet been operationalised.
Taking note of the submissions, the bench directed the Delhi government officers to be cautious in future with regard to incorrect statements being made before the court.
It said such statements would erode the court’s confidence in the officers.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, said that 150 beds would be operationalised during the day and another 100 would be ready by Wednesday.
The court directed the Delhi government to give category wise — with oxygen, without oxygen, ICU and non-ICU — details of the beds at the hospital for COVID-19 patients and listed the matter for hearing on May 18.
During the hearing, a Delhi government official told the court that oxygen cylinders delivered to the hospital could not be used as it did not have a certification from the Petroleum And Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) and hence, the delay in operationalising the beds.
The court also reminded the government that augmenting beds was only a part of the strategy required to beat COVID as the number of doctors and nurses per capita in the country is alarmingly low.
Reiterating what it said a day ago to the Delhi government, the high court said that merely augmenting the number of beds would not help if there was no corresponding increase in number of doctors, nurses and paramedic staff.
The bench said that they have heard of several instances where patients in hospitals are not being attended to properly due to lack of doctors, nurses or paramedic staff.
“Merely augmenting the number of beds would not suffice. There has to be a corresponding increase in doctors, nurses and paramedic staff. We have been telling you this for some time now,” the court said to the Delhi government.
The observation came after senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, said that the people’s woes regarding non-availability of beds would soon be addressed as a 500 bedded ICU facility was going to be set up adjacent to GTB hospital.
Mehra also said that a substantive number of oxygen beds were also empty as the situation in the national capital was improving.
“I don’t think that is correct,” Justice Sanghi said in response.
Mehra said that he will place on record the data in support of his contention.
Senior advocate and amicus curiae Rajshekhar Rao said that there was an issue of COVID patients not being properly attended and cited an example of an octogenarian patient in whose case no one was checking if she was having her food and later had to be put on a IV drip as she had not eaten anything for a day.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma said some of the staff of hospitals are also scared to attend to COVID patients.
The court said that if the government does not have enough hands, then it can take the help of the loved ones of the patients to take care of them and supervise some of their needs.
A Delhi government health department official, who was present in the hearing, told the court that in certain cases, like that of children, one family member was allowed to remain with the patient.
The official also told the court that information with regard to need for more doctors, nursing staff and paramedics was being communicated and disseminated and any gap in the same would be addressed.
She also told the bench that walk-in interviews for ad-hoc recruitments were being conducted everyday, but the applicants were few as many of them were engaged by other medical institutions.
She also said that the Delhi government was trying to ensure that the augmentation of human resources keeps pace with the increase in beds.
With inputs from PTI
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