Cracking the whip against a few private hospitals and medical colleges for refusing admission to COVID-19 patients, the Karnataka government on Tuesday served notices to two of them and said it would initiate criminal proceedings.
"Despite many rounds of meetings with private hospitals to join hands with the government in treating COVID-19 patients, a few hospitals continue to refuse admission," Medical Education Minister C told reporters here.
"Two private hospitals, Apollo Jayanagar and Vikram Hospital have been served notices and their Out Patient Departments have been ordered to be shut for two days as per the Disaster Management Act and Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act. We will initiate criminal proceedings against them," he said.
The Minister said strict action would be taken against private hospitals, including filing of criminal cases, if they were found charging more than the government capped prices.
He said private hospitals should respect the law and refrain from exploiting people by charging exorbitant prices.
He cited the case of a hospital which he however did not name, as having billed a COVID-19 patient Rs nine lakh.
The Minister said he had held a meeting with 25 private medical colleges, who had not yet established Covid testing labs.
"These private medical colleges assured the government that they would start labs within 10 days.
Notices have been issued to two private medical colleges - SDUMC, Kolar and Siddartha Medical College, Tumakuru.
He said a minimum of 500 tests would have to be conducted each day in a lab in the coming days.
"Three hospitals -- Sapthagiri Hospital, BGS Hospital and Dr.Ambedkar Hospital -- have not reserved their quota of beds and have said they will do so in two or three days," he said.
The government also decided to pay a risk allowance of Rs 10,000 for the next six months, together with salaries, to Group D health department employees working in COVID wards, COVID care centres, swab collection centres and fever clinics.
The minister said a dashboard has been created where the public can view real time data about availability of beds in hospitals in Bengaluru.
He said 1,419 posts of nurses, 506 lab technicians, 916 pharmacists and D-group positions are vacant.
Deputy Commissioners have been authorised to appoint them on contract basis or sub-contract basis for six months, he added.