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State can’t cite burden to shift onus to pvt sector: Bombay HC on hospital deaths | Mumbai News – Times of India



MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday told the state government it cannot escape its responsibility by citing the burden of patients coming to its hospitals while hearing a suo motu PIL following deaths in two state-run hospitals in Nanded and Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar.
“You can’t escape by saying there is a burden of patients coming in. You are the State. You can’t shift responsibility to private players,” said Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor. They responded to advocate general Birendra Saraf’s statement that in government hospitals, the “burden of patients is so high” and while these deaths are “unfortunate”, “it does not seem like gross negligence by the hospitals.”
On October 4, HC took suo motu cognisance of the deaths that included a “large number of infants” between September 30 and October 3. 31 patients had died at Dr Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital in Nanded and 18 in GMC and Hospital in Sambhajinagar. The HC sought details from the government.
Saraf submitted a report, by the commissioner, medical education and AYUSH, regarding 24 deaths on October 1 at the Nanded hospital. He said patients were brought in critical condition having been referred by private and some government hospitals. Medicines and other supplies were administered as per protocol. 3 out of 12 infants who died were born in the hospital. “Almost all are people referred to by other hospitals,” he said. The judges said the report “underscores the need for more manpower” in the hospital due to increased neonatal patients. They said 278 of 325 sanctioned posts are filled, and only 49 of 97 sanctioned posts of senior residents.
“How did the situation come to this?” asked Justice Doctor. Saraf said a 3-member committee analysed the situation. He said very often, small hospitals do not have facilities and refer patients to government hospitals in a critical situation. “Government hospitals take them in and endeavour to do their best. There is a struggle of burden of people and the state in which they come in,” he said. Saraf said CM Eknath Shinde has directed divisional commissioners and collectors to take stock of all hospitals and fixed a review meeting on October 9.
The judges, however, frowned at the budgetary allocation for public healthcare over the last 3 years. “A clear decline in percentage of budget to the healthcare sector in the state is thus visible,” they said. Amicus curiae, advocate Mohit Khanna, said Maharashtra Medical Goods Procurement Authority Act, 2023 came into force on May 10 to ensure timely availability and distribution of medical goods. Saraf said there is a procurement authority for government hospitals. To the judges’ query, he replied there is direct allocation to medical college hospitals and funds are given in emergency for medicines. “How to strengthen it? Everything is there in place on paper. If it has not trickled down to the ground, what is the point?” the CJ asked. The judges lamented about the general condition of healthcare in the state. On learning the procurement authority has no full-fledged CEO, the judges directed the state to appoint a CEO within 2 weeks.



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