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Nearly 15% Covid beds in select military hospitals could be made available to civilians

The defence ministry has approved 50 Armed Forces Medical Services hospitals for offering treatment to civilians on a referral basis.

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New Delhi: Select military hospitals will make 10 to 15 per cent of their designated Covid-19 beds available to the civilian population in cases of specific referrals from the local administration, ThePrint has learnt.

The select facilities will be among the 50 Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) hospitals that have been allowed to treat civilians, subject to availability of beds and other conditions.

According to defence sources, civilians requiring beds in the designated military hospitals will first have to get a referral from the chief medical officer, after which they will have to send a requisition to the collector. This would be forwarded to the local military authority, which will then take the case forward depending on availability of beds.

“The process has to be followed given that all existing military hospitals across the country have little beds available since the pandemic surged in the last few weeks, affecting many military personnel and veterans and their dependents,” a source told ThePrint.

“The number of beds in the existing hospitals is inadequate to meet the number of critical Covid positive patients,” the source said, citing the examples of the Army base hospital in Delhi and INHS Ashwini, one of the biggest naval hospitals in Mumbai, which have been running full in the last several weeks.

Last week, Army chief General M.M. Naravane said the force is setting up temporary hospitals across the country and also opening up its own facilities for civilians wherever possible.

Also read: States seek Army help to fight Covid but ‘overstretched’ forces have limited doctors to spare

Other measures

On Sunday, the Army clarified that the Ministry of Defence has allowed 50 AFMS hospitals — including 42 Army, five Air Force and three Navy hospitals (dedicated and mixed Covid hospitals) — in which civilians could get treated subject to referral by the local health authority after ascertaining bed availability.

This is besides the entitled clientele of AFMS hospitals, which comprise serving personnel and veterans and their dependents.

The Army is also learnt to have assured the veteran community that there will be no restrictions on their admission, treatment and consultations, and they would be accorded priority for treatment in military hospitals.

Meanwhile, the AFMS Directorate General last week asked veteran officers to pitch in the fight against Covid and offer their services in advising and counselling.

The three services have put in their resources to create the requisite infrastructure and medical and quarantine facilities to support India’s ongoing fight against the massive Covid wave.

The defence ministry has also granted the services emergency powers to expedite critical procurement needed to build additional infrastructure to tackle the growing burden of the pandemic.

Also read: Too many CT scans to diagnose Covid could increase cancer risk, AIIMS chief warns


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