Supreme Court to Constitute Expert Team for Inspection in States and UT’s To Monitor the Services Provided to COVID-19 Patients

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The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre and States to set up an expert panel. A panel for effective monitoring, supervision, and guidance of the government, so as to provide the patients with proper health and care.

The Apex Court also directed the Union government to bring uniformity in charges of testing and other facilities. The Court ordered it to constitute an expert committee of senior doctors.

Brief Background

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul, and M R Shah took up the matter for hearing through video conferencing.

They issued a slew of directions in the case taking Suo moto cognizance of the lapses and faults on the proper treatment of COVID-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in the hospitals.

The Directions Issued

1) Monitoring of Government Hospitals Dedicated to COVID-19 Care (Especially in Delhi)

It said that the expert committee must inspect, supervise, and issue necessary directions to all hospitals in NCT of Delhi. Taking care of COVID patients and the panel must ensure atleast one visit in each hospital every week.

The Court said that, “The team must also conduct surprise visits to assess the preparedness of the hospitals. The expert team after visiting may issue necessary instructions for improvement to the hospital and forward its report to the Government of NCT of Delhi and the Union of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.”

Furthermore, “All States must also constitute an expert team of doctors for inspection, supervision, and guidance of hospitals. They must issue the necessary directions for the improvement to the concerned hospital and report to the Government.”

“Chief Secretary of each State must ensure that such Committees are immediately constituted. They should start their work within seven days.”

2) Installations of CCTV Cameras

The Court welcomed the steps taken by LNJP hospital about the installation of CCTV cameras in all the wards. The Court said it would help the hospital management to find out the need for proper care about patients admitted in the wards. It would also ensure transparency in the patient’s care in the hospital.

Footage from the CCTV Cameras must be available by the hospitals in NCT of Delhi to the inspecting/supervising expert team or any other authority or body as per directions of the Union of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Thus, for proper screening of the footage it is necessary to issue directions for it.

The Court also said, “The Chief Secretaries of other States must also take steps about the installation of CCTV Cameras in COVID-19 hospitals.”

3) Attendants to be Present with COVID-19 Patients

All COVID-19 hospitals must permit one attendant of the patient in the hospital. All COVID-19 hospitals to set up a help desk for telephonic inquiry about the admitted patients.

4) Discharge Policy

The Apex Court has inscribed the Centre’s discharge policy and this be must followed by all the States and UT’s. The Centre must prescribe the reasonable rates for all the COVID related facilities and tests.

5) Daily Tests being conducted

The bench also noted Maharashtra Government’s submission that 1600 tests were conducted across the state daily. The Court also noted NCT Delhi’s submission that by July 20, daily tests increased to 18,000.

6) Maharashtra’s Policy of not giving the Report of COVID- 19 Positive Patients to Relatives

The bench took note of a circular released by the Maharashtra Government. The circular was about the non-giving of reports of COVID-19 test patients and/or their relatives. Thus, the Court observed that restrictions imposed by the State Government should be done away with.

The counsel for the State of Maharashtra also stated and advised the Government to review the circular and to ensure that families would permit to get the reports. The Court said that, “We do not doubt that the States and all concerned must supply a copy of the report of the patient to him or his relatives and the hospital”.


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