Display real time info on facilities on websites: HC to hospitals, clinics

Court says minimise inconvenience caused to patients; unavailability of beds no excuse for refusing admission to patients

The Bombay High Court on Friday asked government, municipal and private authorities to consider displaying on their websites real time information on the availability of facilities at hospitals run by them for the benefit of COVID-19 patients and those suffering from other diseases.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice A.A. Sayed was hearing a bunch of petitions on the lack of adequate testing facilities and personal protective equipment for frontline workers; exploring the option of using anaesthesia machines as ventilators; ineffectiveness of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) 1916 helpline in catering to the needs of non-COVID-19 patients; and the State’s reluctance to cap the prices of pathological tests.

The court said the authorities must consider organising a drive for robust detection of positive cases, intensive contact tracing, aggressive testing, extensive spread of information and awareness of norms to keep one safe for a better future. The Bench suggested to the authorities to “develop a wholesome strategy for dealing with all classes of patients, balancing healthcare for COVID-19 patients and patients suffering from other diseases alike”.

The 96-page judgment said, “Authorities must consider displaying on websites, all information relating to real time availability of facilities at government/BMC-run hospitals/clinics as well as private hospitals for COVID-19 patients and patients suffering from other diseases for minimising harassment and inconvenience to the extent possible.” The court said though unavailability of beds is no excuse for refusing admission to patients, efforts should be made to give preference to patients who genuinely deserve treatment and care in hospitals over those who seek admission out of sheer fear.

‘Learning a lesson’

The Bench noted, “COVID-19 has taught a good lesson. The desirability of increasing the budgetary allocation for public health and care for setting up more modern facilities to cope with similar challenges may be given a serious thought.”

The court said it has learnt through the course of the proceedings that the claims made by the State and the BMC appear attractive only on paper. The court said, “The tall claims being made that everything is under control and that the facts and figures given on affidavits and presentation of the war room dashboard regarding availability of all facilities/arrangements are nothing more than paperwork to suppress the real state of affairs.”


In concluding remarks, the court said physical distancing is non-negotiable and has to be practised “no matter what the inconveniences are”. The Bench said, “By maintaining proper hygiene, proper protection and social distancing, each one of the citizens can contribute to fewer people contracting the infection.”

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 1:12:25 AM |

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