“This circular is almost a year old. The situation has changed, ”the court said while adding that hospitals would suffer losses if they met the initial cap of ₹ 18,000.

The Delhi High Court on Friday ordered the Delhi government to “review” its June 2020 circular capping daily package rates for COVID-19 treatments in private hospitals at ₹ 18,000, claiming at that rate that ” hospitals will operate at a loss “in the current scenario.

“This circular dates back almost a year. The situation, what it was then (June 2020) and what it is today is radically different,” said a magistrate of Judge Vipin Sanghi and Judge Rekha Palli, pointing out that medical infrastructure and manpower have become a scarcity due to the surge in Covid cases.

The bench said that today if a Covid patient wants paramedics or a private attendant at home, they will be hard pressed to find one.

“They bill on a daily basis. For a nurse, they charge around ₹ 10,000 per day. Paramedics, doctors if they risk their lives, then have the right to charge something more. We shouldn’t hold a grudge ”. said the bench.

“There is a huge shortage of bipaps and drugs and the prices have gone up. So this (circular) needs to be reviewed and brought down to a realistic level so that hospitals can keep up with it,” the High Court said.

“ Likely to suffer losses ”

“You have to realistically revisit this. What happens if you have to implement this circular right now, at ₹ 18,000 in fact the hospital will be operating at a loss,” the High Court added.

The high court was ordered during a plea hearing from a lawyer who raised the issue of overcharging for beds by private hospitals.

The lawyer argued that there are hospitals in the capital that advertise Covid packages with exorbitant fees. He said that according to Delhi government’s June 20, 2020 circular, ₹ 18,000 includes everything. “Every hospital I called told me they were charging between ₹ 50,000 and ₹ 60,000,000 per night,” the lawyer said, adding that “the situation needed immediate management”.

“I can show the bill when a hospital charges over ₹ 30,000 per day for an intensive care package, in addition to what they charge for oxygen, bipap, gloves. Delhi government circular says it must be ₹ 18,000, all inclusive, “the lawyer said.

As per the circular, the daily rates, including the cost of PPE, at hospitals accredited by the National Council on Accreditation of Hospitals and Health Care Providers (NABH) are ₹ 10,000 per bed. isolation, including supportive care and oxygen; ₹ 15,000 for the ventilator-less intensive care unit; and ₹ 18,000 for the intensive care unit with ventilator.

For the same, the rates at non-NABH-accredited hospitals will be ₹ 8,000, ₹ 13,000 and ₹ 15,000 respectively.

The circular further clarified that the rates would be applicable to all COVID-19 beds in private hospitals, subject to an upper limit of 60% of total hospital bed capacity.

At this, the High Court said the rates should be standardized. Otherwise, the hospital could charge patients different rates for similar services, the High Court said.