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Haryana

Beds empty in pvt hospitals as Delhi builds Covid capacity

July 15, 2020 06:57 AM

COURTESY HT JULY 15

Beds empty in pvt hospitals as Delhi builds Covid capacity
‘REVENUE LOSS’ : Hospitals say keeping empty beds a drain on their earnings

On Tuesday, Delhi had 15,330 Covid-19 beds, of which 11,236 are vacant, according to the Delhi Corona app. biplov buyan/HT PHOTO
Anonna Dutt

anonna.dutt@htlive.com

New Delhi : Nearly three of every four hospital beds earmarked for the treatment of patients with coronavirus disease (Covid-19) are lying unused in the city, according to the government’s Delhi Corona app, which stakeholders say is adding to the financial burden of private hospitals.

As on Tuesday, Delhi had 15,330 beds earmarked for Covid-19, including 125 beds at the field hospital set up by Defence Research and Development Organisation, of which 11,236 are vacant, according to the app.

“Almost all big hospitals in the city have dedicated Covid-19 beds. With the number of cases going down and the government strengthening its own facilities—such as setting up a new 1,000-bed hospital in Dhaula Kuan—maybe it is time to start rolling back these Covid-19 beds in smaller hospitals. These hospitals can then start focussing on non-Covid treatment,” Dr Harsh Mahajan, co-chair, FICCI health services committee and the founder of Mahajan Imaging, said.

At the same time, Dr Mahajan cautioned, “We cannot roll back everything at once, there need to be buffer beds to ensure patients can receive treatment in case there is a surge in cases again.”

Hospitals say a price cap by the Delhi government on 60% of beds in the third week of June is adding to the problem.

The Delhi government had capped Covid-19 treatment rates at ₹8,000 (non-NABH-accredited hospitals) and ₹10,000 (NABH-accredited hospitals, including entry-level facilities) per day for an isolation bed, and ₹13,000-15,000 per day for a bed at an intensive care unit (ICU), and ₹15,000-18,000 per day for an ICU bed with a ventilator.

The Delhi government spokesperson refused to comment on the issue.

“For private sector hospitals, patient load reduced to about 20% of their usual numbers during the lockdown, which ate into their revenues. Treating Covid-19 patients was a fresh revenue channel for them. Then, the government capped the prices. This will impact the revenue that hospitals can generate,” said Girdhar Gyani, director-general of Association of Healthcare Providers (India).

Beds needed

Officials and experts have repeatedly stressed on the need to have adequate beds and that hospital rates are kept at levels so that treatment is accessible to all. A committee set up by the Delhi government in early June had estimated that there would be about 100,000 cases by the end of June and Delhi would need 15,000 hospitals beds.

“It is a very good thing that we did not need as many hospital beds as. But we cannot start going back on the preparations , as there is a possibility the cases might go up again,” said Dr Arun Gupta, president of Delhi Medical Council and one of the members of the committee.

Treating the insured

“Insurance associations have also started arm-twisting smaller hospitals into accepting the same capped prices that the government negotiated for cash-paying patients. This should not be done as their rates are pre-negotiated. We have reached out to the government regarding the same because it defeats the whole purpose of cross-subsidy and will further strain the private hospitals,” Gyani said.

Subhash Khuntia, chairperson, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, countered, “When a government gives an order that a certain rate has to be followed, it is applicable to all patients whether they are paying by cash or through insurance. I think, the hospitals should agree to a fair price so that they remain sustainable and but do not overcharge either

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