Monitoring COVID hospitals | SC asks Centre, States to set up expert panel

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The Supreme Court Friday directed the Centre and States to set up expert panel for effective monitoring, supervision, and guidance of government and COVID dedicated hospitals for providing proper health care to the patients.

 The apex court also directed the Union government to bring uniformity in charges of testing and other facilities and ordered it to constitute an expert committee of senior doctors of Central government hospitals, GNCTD run hospitals, AIIMS and responsible officer from Union health ministry.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah, which took up the matter for hearing through video conferencing, issued slew of directions in the case taken suomotu cognizance on the proper treatment of COVID-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in the hospitals.

It said that the expert committee shall inspect, supervise and issue necessary directions to all Government hospitals, COVID hospitals and other hospitals in NCT of Delhi taking care of COVID patients and the panel shall ensure that at least one visit in each hospital be done weekly.

“The team may in addition to normal inspection shall also conduct surprise visits to assess the preparedness of the hospitals. The expert team as indicated after visiting may issue necessary instructions for improvement to the hospital concerned and also forward its report to the Government of NCT of Delhi and the Union of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” the bench said in its 17-page order.

It further directed that all States shall also constitute an expert team of doctors and other experts for inspection, supervision and guidance of Government hospitals and other hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 in each State who may inspect, supervise the hospitals in the State and issue necessary directions for the improvement to the concerned hospital and report to the Government.

“Chief Secretary of each State shall ensure that such Committees are immediately constituted and start their works within a period of seven days,” the bench said.

The top court noted that Centre has constituted a Committee of NitiAyog member Dr. V.K. Paul, representatives of the AIIMS and Delhi government, to assess the reasonable rates of various COVID related facilities/tests and on the basis of the panel’s report a decision for reducing the charges of test in the NCT Delhi has been taken.

“The Union of India may issue appropriate guidelines/directions to all the States/Union Territories with regard to prescribing reasonable rates of various Covid related facilities/test etc., which need to be uniformly followed by all concerned. In case, with regard to any particular State/Union Territory, there is any difference, the same may be specifically noticed and directed accordingly,” the bench said.

The top court said, “The Union of India, Ministry of Home Affairs may issue appropriate directions in exercise of power under Disaster Management Act, 2005 to all States/Union Territories to uniformly follow the revised discharge policy dated May 8, 2020 with regard to discharge of different categories of patients as categorised in the revised discharge policy.”