The Delhi health authorities have directed the private hospitals in the city to update the status of vacant beds in real-time on the government website, embarked for economically weaker sections (EWS), sources told The Times of India.
On Thursday, the real-time data shared by hospitals showed more than 500 EWS beds lying vacant, including 23 ICU beds with ventilator support and 55 without ventilator support.
The development comes a day after the media highlighted the issue of vacant beds reserved for the poor in these private hospitals. At a time when people are struggling to find admission in hospitals, many beds reserved for the poor are lying unoccupied. The vacancies range from 40 per cent to 100 per cent in different hospitals, reported The Times Of India.
Ashok Agarwal, a member of the committee appointed by the Delhi High Court to implement free bed facility, told the media that bed reservation in private hospitals for economically weaker sections (EWS) was 85 per cent, but has now come down to 15-20 per cent. According to the Supreme Court's order, private hospitals built on land acquired at discounted rates have to reserve 10 per cent of their in-patient and 25 per cent of their out-patient capacity for free treatment of EWS people.
Nearly 61 hospitals across the city have more than 950 beds reserved for the poor. Of these, many have been turned fully or partially into COVID facilities, and many EWS patients seeking for COVID treatment are eligible for availing the bed. However, the committee has been receiving regular complaints about denial of admission to the poor, Agarwal informed.
When the media tried to reach out to some of these hospitals, they asserted that all the EWS beds reserved in the non-COVID facilities were occupied, while some said that not many EWS patients had approached them.
As per the rules, EWS patient can approach the private hospital either directly or through a reference from state-run hospitals. But many private hospitals were seen turning away on the excuse of unavailability of beds.