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Government reclaims 50% of private hospital beds for Covid-19 patients

A Palike official said that the number of government beds available as of Tuesday was only adequate to sustain existing patient numbers
Last Updated : 06 April 2021, 22:25 IST

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The government has once again reserved 50 per cent of all beds at private hospitals for government-referred Covid-19 patients. Officials say the first beds should be made available from Wednesday onwards.

In Bengaluru Urban, while the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) said it had a total of 1,200 beds for Covid-19 patients, the city’s upwardly mobile active caseload has officials worried. Over the last seven days, the city has identified 21,126 positive cases, out of which 13.4 per cent or 3,101 people required hospitalisation.

A Palike official said that the number of government beds available as of Tuesday was only adequate to sustain existing patient numbers. “If case numbers increase in subsequent days, there will be issues,” the official said.

BBMP Chief Commissioner, Gaurav Gupta, said the matter of bed allocation had been under discussion for several days due to urgent public need and precedence from last year.

On Tuesday, the state government issued an order reiterating that a June 2020 order apportioning 50 per cent of all private hospital beds for government-referred Covid-19 patients “will remain in force”.

However, an SAST official said that 50 per cent would not immediately be required. “Bedding allocation will be scaled up in a phased manner as and when there is a need,” the official said.

During a meeting held earlier on Tuesday, BBMP officials together with representatives from the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes’ Association (PHANA) and the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST) had discussed the swift handover of over 1,200 private hospital beds or 20 per cent of total bedding numbers in the private sector in Bengaluru.

“We want to make the system of bed allocation operational from tomorrow (Wednesday), after which we must start taking control of the beds and referring patients,” Gupta said.

PHANA said it did not expect existing patients in hospitals to be inconvenienced. “Beds in private medical colleges will be filled first, followed by big chain hospitals, followed by 100-beds and above hospitals,” said Dr H M Prasanna, its president.

Several hospitals which spoke to DH, said they were already at full occupancy with private patients, but said they would comply with the government order.

Reimbursement concerns

The private sector expressed concern over delayed reimbursement of hospital fees by SAST.

“Last year, the private sector treated 75,000 government-referred Covid-19 patients in Bengaluru. Only 60 per cent of reimbursements have been made so far,” Dr Prasanna said. According to a government source, this is because SAST scrutinises all patient records to verify billing. “The BBMP must start a help desk whereby patients can report overcharging by hospitals,” the source said.

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Published 06 April 2021, 19:16 IST

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