Private hospitals seek time to hand over 50% beds

A BBMP health worker collecting swab samples of passengers at Kempe Gowda bus station, for the COVID-19 test, in Bengaluru on Wednesday.  

Although the State government has directed private hospitals to reserve 50% beds for government-referred COVID-19 patients, the hospital managements say it may take a couple of weeks to begin the system as they already have other patients admitted.

Members of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) said that officials had discussed bed reservation of upto 40% with them.

PHANA president Prasanna H.M. said, “While we have no objection to reserving 50% as we had done last year, beds in most hospitals are now occupied by private COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.” He further added, “We will be in a position to hand them over as and when the beds fall vacant.”

More ICU beds sought

This time, the government has asked hospitals to include more ICU and High Dependency Unit (HDU) beds in the 50% government quota. As of now, nearly 90% of ICU beds in most hospitals are occupied. Also most hospitals do not have separate COVID-19 ICU. Due to all these issues, it will take a couple of weeks for hospitals to hand over beds, the doctor said.

Last year, a cold war had ensued between the government and private hospitals over bed allocation. While private hospitals demanded that the 50% reservation should be for both government referred and private walk-in patients, the government wanted 50% only for government-referred patients. There had been instances wherein officials shut out-patient departments of several hospitals that did not comply with the Order.

Dr. Prasanna said PHANA had requested Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) and BBMP Commissioner Gaurav Gupta to ensure that such ‘ugly scenes’ did not recur this time. “We are ready to give 50% beds but allow us to hand them over in a phased manner,” he said.

Pointing out another issue, the doctor said even if hospitals set aside the prescribed 50% beds in one go, there is no clarity in the Order as to how the government will compensate for the unoccupied beds. “Last time, we had demanded payment of at least 25% of the fixed cost per day towards each unoccupied bed. But that was not paid,” he said.

However, Mr. Gupta said these are all logistical issues which are being addressed by the hospital bed management team. “We have told the hospitals clearly that we need the beds at the earliest failing which action will be initiated. In genuine cases where beds are 100% occupied, officials will check the veracity and take a call,” he said.

The Commissioner said the BBMP had already started the process of referring patients for treatment under government quota in private referrals from Wednesday.

Pending bills

Most hospitals, especially in districts are yet to get their bills cleared by the government. Over 50% of the claims by private hospitals are yet to be settled, heads of various hospitals said.

Referral of patients to private hospitals for treatment under government quota had been stopped from November first week. Dr. Prasanna said of the over ₹600 crore claims made by private hospitals, only bills to the tune of ₹260 crore had been cleared.

Officials in Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST) said attributed the delay to detailed scrutiny of bills and alleged that some hospitals had submitted false claims.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 3:33:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/private-hospitals-seek-time-to-hand-over-50-beds/article34267969.ece

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