The AAP government informed the Delhi High Court on Thursday that an expert committee has recommended reducing, from 80 per cent to 60 per cent, the number of ICU beds reserved for Covid-19 patients in private hospitals in the national capital.
The Delhi government placed before Justice Navin Chawla the decision taken on Wednesday by the De-escalation Committee (Covid-19) which was constituted to assess the current position of hospital admissions and discharges and recommend reduction in the number of beds dedicated for coronavirus patients, if required.
The committee has recommended that "de-escalation may be carried out in a graded manner preferably in Delhi government and private sector hospitals", but not in central government hospitals, the high court was informed by Delhi government additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose and advocate Urvi Mohan.
"Therefore, the committee recommends that Covid ICU beds reservation of 80 per cent of total ICU beds in the private sector be reduced to 60 per cent, making 40 per cent ICU capacity of the private hospitals available for the non-Covid critical care.
"This will make available 600 ICU beds (approx) for non-Covid patients. The committee decided not to change the Covid ICU beds status of any Delhi government hospitals as for now," the AAP government said.
The court was also informed that the committee has recommended that "the Covid beds reservation of 60 per cent of total beds in all private hospitals should be de-escalated to 45 per cent. This will result in making 55 per cent beds in private sector hospitals available for non-Covid patients.
"It will increase the non-Covid beds in the private sector from existing 6,760 to 8,696 (approx), an increase of more than 1,930 beds. Covid beds in the private sector shall decrease from existing 9,051 to 7,115(approx)," the committee has said.
The committee has said that its recommendations shall be subject to the overarching principal that the status of fully Covid-19 hospitals should not be changed as for now.
"Further all the hospitals are free to have more Covid beds than mandated, in all the categories of beds in view of logistical and practical convenience," it has said.
It has further said that the de-escalation plan shall be reversible in nature and non-Covid beds provided through the de-escalation "shall be converted to Covid beds in case of any such need across the state".
"Hence, it is emphasized that the reversible de-escalation plan-in principle is subject to availability of satisfactory Covid services across the state. Further, any agency may be required to reverse the conversion of Covid to non-Covid beds within a time span of three days in case of any unexpected surge in the number of Covid cases.
"Accordingly, hospitals need to ensure adequate preparedness in terms of infrastructure and human resource for reverse conversion of non-Covid beds to Covid beds as per prior status (pre de-escalation plan)," the committee has said.
The other recommendations of the committee were to de-escalate to 1,000 from 2,010 the number of Covid beds in Lok Nayak hospital and similar reductions from 1,500 to 500 was recommended in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.
"However, Rajeev Gandhi Super Specialty will continue functioning as a dedicated Covid hospital along with other identified Covid hospitals in the government sector. lt was also decided that Covid beds in other Delhi government hospitals shall continue to function," the committee has said.
It has also said that it will re-visit the recommendations after 10 days to assess the impact/outcome and will strategise accordingly in light of the emerging situation.
The high court was hearing a plea by the Association of Healthcare Providers to quash the Delhi government's September 12 order to reserve 80 per cent ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in 33 private hospitals here.
The September 12 order of the Delhi government was earlier stayed by the high court on September 22. However, a division of the high court on November 12 vacated the stay order taking into account the change in circumstances since the time the stay order was passed.