When Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched an app on 2 June which shows the number of available beds for Covid-19 patients in hospitals, he said that there was an information gap which could now be filled. While the government has arranged sufficient beds, he said, people didn’t know which hospital had vacant beds or available ventilators.
This is a significant issue, as Mandeep Singh’s account, published by HuffPost India, shows. Singh’s father-in-law, who had Covid-19, was turned away from various hospitals which claimed they did not have beds. He finally died at the LNJP Hospital on Thursday morning.
This is not an isolated incident, as people’s experience with the ‘Delhi Corona’ app shows. Several people have taken to Twitter to complain that while the Delhi government app shows that hospitals have beds, they or people they know have been denied admission in these places.
As of Wednesday, the Delhi government app showed that 33 beds for Covid-19 patients were vacant in the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. The hospital spokesperson, however, told The Hindu that no beds were available on Wednesday.
The numbers for Apollo Hospital, however, more or less matched the app’s data, which said no beds were available out of 121 in total. An official at the hospital told HuffPost India that there were about 100 beds and none of them were vacant.
There was a major discrepancy in the numbers for Max Hospital. An official spokesperson from Max Healthcare told HuffPost India that Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, and Max Hospital, Patparganj, have 200 beds and 80 beds, respectively, for treatment of Covid-19 patients. These beds, the spokesperson said, were fully occupied as of Thursday.
However, the Delhi government app said all 80 beds in Patparganj and 12 of the 200 beds in Saket were vacant.
The opposition has also attacked the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi over the app.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Congress leader Anil Chaudhary said that while the Delhi government app showed that Max Hospital had 80 vacant beds, a screen at the hospital showed that no beds were available.
Delhi government response
A government spokesperson told The Hindu it is a new initiative so there are bound to be “teething issues” and the government will resolve them soon. “Over the next few days we are aiming to provide real time information to everyone,” the spokesperson added.
State health secretary Padmini Singla also said the government is working to “streamline information and service”. The Times of India pointed out that the information on availability of beds is being added by officials from the Delhi health department. The government, it said, is now planning to direct hospitals to appoint nodal officers for this.
Kejriwal had also said that people can call on their helpline 1031 from the hospital reception if they were denied admission despite the app showing available beds.
AAP accuses RML of inaccurate testing
This is not the only issue in which the Kejriwal government is not seeing eye to eye with hospitals. AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha on Wednesday claimed that the centre-run Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital was giving out erroneous Covid-19 test results.
Chadha said the Delhi government re-tested 30 samples from RML Hospital which were declared Covid-19 positive and 12 of these samples were found to be negative and the result of two samples was inconclusive, according to PTI.
He also alleged that the hospital violated government norms. The centre, Delhi government and the high court have clearly stated that Covid-19 test results should be submitted within 48 hours of the testing and preferably within 24 hours, he said.
“But unfortunately, the RML Hospital has completely violated these protocols. They have submitted the results after 72 hours, six days, seven days, 10 days and even after 31 days,” he added, PTI reported.
The RML Hospital responded and said the dates of sampling were different and there was a gap of 7-14 days when resampling was done. It said quality checks are being done with AIIMS and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the results are concordant. The hospital also maintained that there was no backlog anymore and regular quality checks were being done.
(With PTI inputs)