New Delhi: Noting that many private hospitals are denying critical healthcare services to patients due to the fear of Covid-19, Health Secretary Preeti Sudan has directed all states and union territories to ensure that essential services like immunisation, cancer treatment and dialysis are provided to patients who need them.
Sudan’s notification, issued Tuesday and marked to chief secretaries of all states and union territories, states that while it is the need of the hour to keep the health systems ready for a possible surge in Covid-19 cases, essential non-Covid services need to be provided.
The notification goes on to state that essential health services include reproductive and child health, immunisation, treatment of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and leprosy, as well as dialysis for kidney patients and cancer treatments.
The health secretary noted that her ministry had received reports that “many hospitals in the private sector are hesitating in providing critical service such as dialysis, blood transfusion, chemotherapy and institutional deliveries to their regular patients”, either due to the fear of contracting Covid-19, or because hospitals and clinics are being shut if a single case of the novel coronavirus infection is detected there.
“It is also noticed that at many places the hospitals/clinics are insisting on a Covid-19 test before providing services,” Sudan added.
Movement of service providers
To ensure that patients in need of healthcare services do not face any hardships, Sudan directed that movement of service providers, especially those working in the private sector, be facilitated.
She added that state helplines should address grievances regarding the denial of such services, and that helpline staff should be trained to quickly respond to these complaints — especially if treatment is being denied on account of testing.
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