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"Not The Time To Do Business And Earn Profit":Gujarat HC Directs Pvt Hospitals To Adopt Govt. Specified Rates, Lest License Be Cancelled [Read Order]

Mehal Jain
18 May 2020 12:17 PM GMT
Not The Time To Do Business And Earn Profit:Gujarat HC Directs  Pvt Hospitals To Adopt Govt. Specified Rates, Lest License Be Cancelled [Read Order]
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The Gujarat High Court last week directed the State Government to see that all the private hospitals across the city of Ahmedabad and also situated at the outskirts work out the modalities with respect to the fee structure.

"At any cost, the private hospitals should not be permitted to demand exorbitant amount for the purpose of treatment of COVID­19 patients. These are difficult times and not the time to do business and earn profit. The medical services are the most essential services and in times like the present one, the private hospitals cannot demand lacs of rupees from a patient", said the bench.

"...few private hospitals have been authorised by the State Government to admit and treat the COVID­19 patients, but the fees are exorbitant. The fees are running in lacs of rupees and an ordinary man will never be able to afford to avail adequate treatment from a private hospital...the Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad as well as the Sardar Patel Vallabhbhai Patel Hospital, Ahmedabad is full. No beds are available as on date. In such circumstances, a COVID­19 affected person will have to reach to a private hospital", noted the Court.

The bench opined that more private hospitals are required to be accorded permission for the purpose of COVID­19 treatment and their rates should be regulated by the State Government. "This excessive charge in this critical war like situation when humanity is fighting for survival is absolutely unjustified and deserves to be deprecated. This is creating an unequal situation for the private hospitals in the city. When so many are clamouring for treatment, the exorbitant rates appear inhumane. Except for the very rich and affluent class of people, such hospitals remain out of reach for most patients. The treatment for this pandemic in this hard times even if offered by any private hospital must be reasonable and affordable", it said.

"If the private hospitals do not budge and are determined to demand exorbitant amount, then this Court will have to take appropriate legal action against such hospitals and the consequences may be quite bitter including cancellation of licence", expressed the Court sternly.

"The most grave and serious problem as on date within the State is hunger. People are without food, more particularly, the migrants, the labourers and the people hailing from the poor and downtrodden class of the society", further observed the Court. It requested the government pleaders to take up this issue with the State authorities and see to it that even during the period of lockdown, some modalities should be worked out by virtue of which few selected and trustworthy NGOs, volunteers and charitable institutions can be asked to provide food to the poor and the needy. "Once again, we observe that this is not the time to educate the migrant workers, poor and the needy people of the concept of social distancing, etc. They will never be able to understand any such concept. They are not worried about the virus. They are worried about food. It would be very harsh to say that a person should not die because of COVID­19, but no problem if he dies because of hunger. Therefore, the entire concentration should be to provide the maximum succour and relief to the migrant labourers and the other members of the poor and downtrodden class of society and ease their pain and suffering", urged the bench.

Another thing that the bench brought to the notice of the Advocate General was the problem with regard to 200 and odd contractual employees working in the House Keeping Department of the SVP Hospital, Ahmedabad. The Court pointed out that all Gujarati News Channels had flashed that the employees of the House Keeping Department of the hospital were on the verge of going on a strike as they have not been paid their salary for the month of May 2020. "At this point of time, no employee of any hospital can go on a strike. At the same time, the employees should be paid their salaries in time", observed the bench.

Accordingly, the Court saw to it that this problem was taken care of very promptly, then and there.

Moreover, the Court took cognisance of the following substantial issues, urging that the ASG take up them up with the State Government at the earliest and revert by the next date of hearing, being May 22:

[1] 'Why the State Government is not ready to ply the buses almost more than 8000 in numbers owned by the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation?'- This issue came to be raised in the wake of the fact that only Luxury buses are being used for the purpose of transporting the migrant workers from one State to the other and also from one district to other district within the State of Gujarat. It was pointed out that a huge amount is being demanded for the purpose of purchasing ticket of a Luxury bus.

[2] 'Why the funds of RERA meant for the construction workers is not being utilised for the benefit of their well being'

[3] Why should the State Government ask any person desirous of going back to his native to pay for the ticket? Why the Government should not bear the expenses for the same?

[4] Why the State authorities should not make use of the community halls, marriage halls, schools, etc, for the purpose of providing shelter to the migrant workers and other labourers and also for quarantine purpose?

[5] If the migrant workers and labourers want to go back to their native places, the contractors or the employers should be asked to pay for their tickets and if the contractors decline, then the Government should bear the expenses.

[6] A lot of concern was expressed on the discharge policy prevailing as on date of the CORONA virus patients. It was pointed out that while discharging the patients, no further test is being carried out.

[7] The State authorities should make necessary arrangements for N­95 masks. The N­95 masks should be provided to all the health workers working in the different hospitals and should also be made available for the general public at large for their safety.

[8] It is high time that the State authorities should consider to permit the hair cutting salons to be opened.

[9] The services of electrician, other technicians should be made available.

[10] The other issues with regard to the examination of the students of Standard 10th and Standard 12th were also raised. It was pointed out that the students are in a dilemma. The State authorities should clarify as to when it will be possible to conduct the examination. 

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