HYDERABAD: In a significant development, a division bench of Telangana High Court on Wednesday directed all private hospitals and diagnostic centres willing to offer services relating to Covid-19 to apply and get approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The ICMR should nominate qualified and experienced persons to scrutinise such applications, conduct inspections of the available facilities and infrastructure and possess adequate number of qualified doctors and para medical staff in such private hospitals before granting approval. This exercise should be completed within the shortest possible time in view of grave urgency and rising cases of persons infected by the deadly Coronavirus, the bench noted.
Finding fault with the decision of Telangana government in prohibiting private hospitals and diagnostic centres from conducting Covid-19 tests and treatment, the bench held that the government cannot compel the people to get testing or treatment/isolation for Covid-19 only at NIMS or Gandhi Hospital or in other designated laboratories decided by it when the citizens are willing to pay the cost and get their blood samples tested in ICMR-approved private hospitals or laboratories having requisite infrastructure.
It is the right of citizens to get tested or treatment on payment basis, if they choose to do so, in any approved private hospital. The ICMR-approved private units should take good care of the suspects or confirmed Covid-19 patients and should keep the government authorities concerned informed on a daily basis of the persons being treated and their health status, the bench said while setting aside the proceedings of the Director of Public Health restraining all private hospitals from extending medical aid to Covid-19 patients.
Casting aspersions on all pvt hosps may not be proper: HC
The bench, comprising Justice MS Ramachandra Rao and Justice K Lakshman, passed this order while allowing the PIL filed by G Jai Kumar of the city, challenging the decision of the government to not permit private hospitals and laboratories to test and treat Covid-19 cases. The bench clarified that only those private hospitals that are certified by the ICMR or will be approved in future can treat or isolate Covid-19 patients. Casting aspersions on all private hospitals and laboratories may not be proper, ironically when the government permits the poor to go to some of them for treatment for other diseases under the Arogyasri scheme, it added.
The bench, in its order, opined that limiting testing centres arbitrarily jeopardises the health of serious non-Covid patients and increases the risks of spread of the disease. It further stated that it is imperative to reduce the burden on health care system and ensure that Covid-19 cases get detected and treated at a faster rate. Some State governments have already roped in the private sector in the fight to control the pandemic. There is neither legal nor logical basis for excluding private sector participation in the Covid fight.