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Delhi HC Unhappy with Healthcare Infrastructure in Nation’s Capital

Written by : Jayati Dubey

May 21, 2024

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The six-member expert committee by the Delhi High Court identified staff and faculty shortages as a primary deficiency.

The Delhi High Court recently evaluated the health infrastructure of the capital and underscored the inadequacies, noting a critical shortage of hospital beds.

Despite Delhi being home to some of the nation's largest hospitals, including prestigious government-operated facilities such as AIIMS, Safdarjung, RML, Lok Nayak, and private institutions such as Fortis and Max, the city's healthcare services remain insufficient.

While those with financial means can seek treatment in the private sector, the less affluent face significant challenges.

Recent incidents in Delhi have spotlighted the dire state of government hospitals, with AIIMS, Safdarjung, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Delhi State Cancer Institute, and Lok Nayak Hospital allegedly denying treatment due to shortages of medicines, beds, ventilators, or equipment.

Tragically, these refusals have led to patient deaths, including that of a young cancer patient.

Committee Formed to Assess & Optimize Resources

In response to these incidents, the Delhi HC established a committee of experts to evaluate the medical infrastructure of state-run hospitals and propose ways to optimize existing resources.

The six-member expert committee identified staff and faculty shortages as a primary deficiency.

Delhi currently has 39 state-managed hospitals, eight operated by autonomous bodies, 427 dispensaries, 546 neighborhood clinics, 30 polyclinics, and eight medical colleges.

Government hospitals offer 1,058 ICU beds, but the committee recommended increasing this number to 2,028 to meet minimum basic standards.

They also pointed to the inadequacy of quality operation theaters, pre-and post-operative facilities, essential equipment, and a perpetual shortage of medicines.

Need for a Structured Referral System

The committee also highlighted the absence of a structured referral system within the government healthcare sector, leading to overcrowding in referral hospitals and sub-optimal patient care.

The lack of a centralized and coordinated control room and helpline to direct patients to the nearest appropriate healthcare facility exacerbates the problem.

The court had previously directed Centre-run hospitals to operate a control room for information on the availability of beds with ventilator facilities.

Govt’s Plans for Healthcare Infrastructure

In response to the court's findings, the Delhi government planned to open four new hospitals in Siraspur, Madipur, Jwalapuri, and Hastsal, adding a total of 3,237 beds within the next two to three years.

Additionally, the construction of a medical college building at the centrally administered Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Medical Sciences (ABVIMS) and Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital is set to begin soon.

Funds amounting to INR 470 Cr have been sanctioned, and the master plan has been devised, with the project expected to take two years to complete.

The institute has also been allocated approximately 8.87 acres for the construction of a new hospital block dedicated to specialties such as geriatric care, oncology, radiotherapy, palliative care, and chronic illness.

This expansion aims to address the specific needs of these patient groups and improve overall healthcare delivery in the region.

The Delhi HC's intervention and the subsequent formation of an expert committee highlight the urgent need to address the shortcomings in the capital's healthcare infrastructure.

Delhi aims to improve its healthcare services by increasing ICU bed capacity, enhancing medical facilities, and implementing a structured referral system.


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