Lucknow: The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has decided that Covid-19 patients seeking hospital admission will only need the approval of doctors in charge at a facility, and not the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), as was being done so far. At each hospital, the government said, one doctor will be made in charge to decide on admissions.
According to a source in the Uttar Pradesh government, state Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh and Medical Education Minister Suresh Khanna held a meeting Wednesday to review the Covid-19 situation, where the controversial CMO rule was taken up.
The rule required patients seeking hospital admission to first get a reference letter from the CMO, who heads the Integrated Command and Control Centres set up by the government in all districts to manage the availability of hospital beds in the state. It kicked up a big row as the second surge of the Covid pandemic took off and reports emerged of critical patients being turned away by hospitals. On Saturday, a journalist died in similar circumstances — his oxygen level kept dropping even as Covid test results were awaited. The same day, Yogi government directed hospitals to even admit suspected Covid patients.
Reached for comment after the meeting, Jai Pratap told ThePrint that “we don’t want to discuss the details, but the issue of getting permission from the CMO has been solved”.
“We don’t want the patient to face any problem due to documentation work etc, so we solved the issue. You can get more details regarding this from Mr Khanna (Suresh Khanna),” he added.
ThePrint reached Khanna for a comment, but phone calls to the minister went unanswered.
UP Additional Chief Secretary Navneet Sehgal, however, confirmed the new rule.
“We have decided that, from now on, one doctor will be made in charge of each hospital, and will decide if a patient needs admission,” he said. “If the patient’s condition is serious, the doctor in charge will facilitate their admission immediately. We took this decision as the number of cases is on the rise and people were facing lot of problem. This will ease the situation,” he said.
‘It will be better’
Speaking to ThePrint, an official in the Lucknow CMO’s office said the controversial rule had been in place since last year. “After getting tested, patients needed a reference letter from the CMO and only then would he/she get admission in hospital,” the official added.
Sehgal said the government had set up the Integrated Command and Control Centres last year, and tasked them with identifying Covid patients who needed a bed, allocating them a bed, transferring patients to hospitals, and monitoring the patient’s condition as well as the availability of beds in hospitals.
“The centre was created to keep account of the situation. The chief medical officer was in charge of the centre. Along with their team of doctors and staff, the CMO decided who needed a bed,” Sehgal added. “The system will still be there but instead of the command centre deciding who needs a bed, the doctor in charge at the hospital will take a call.”
There had been demands from several quarters that the CMO rile be waived. On Tuesday, Congress general secretary in-charge of UP, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, requested CM Yogi Adityanath to waive this rule. In a letter to the CM, she wrote, “There are reports from different ends that patients coming from other districts are not being admitted without the letter of the CMO. This system has become a means of harassment for patients already facing trouble. Due to this, people are forced to wait for long hours. Many have lost their lives while waiting.”
Residents have welcomed the change. Devendra Srivastava, a Lucknow resident who recently had to get a relative admitted in hospital, said, “This process (seeking CMO letter) takes long hours. Covid-19 patients were facing a tough situation, where they had to wait for hours before being hospitalised. Usually, it takes 4 to 5 hours, sometimes even 6 hours. It will be better now that they have waived the rule.”