One year after Covid-19 hit the state, the government is yet to streamline the system for admitting patients, forcing many to go to private hospitals and seek treatment at an exorbitant cost.
Delay in hospitalisation was one of the key reasons behind Covid deaths last year, but the government hasn’t learned any lessons at all on this front.
It is still mandatory for all Covid-19 patients to have a district ID number (‘BU number’ in Bengaluru Urban) in order to secure a bed at one of the seven government hospitals accepting Covid-19 patients in the city.
If a patient doesn’t have a BU number, a letter from their District Health Officer (DHO) stating the necessity of admission in Bengaluru has to be presented, a cumbersome rule that proved costly for Sayeed (name changed), who tested positive for Covid-19.
The 58-year-old resident of Ramanagara district sought to get a bed at K C General hospital in Bengaluru, but was turned away because he did not have a letter from the Ramanagara DHO.
“Out of options, he was forced to take a bed in a multispeciality hospital in the city which charged him Rs 1.5 lakh for Covid medical care for a two-day period,” said the patient’s attender.
Several officers of the government hospitals that DH spoke to confirmed that patients without BU numbers cannot be admitted, and that this especially pertains to patients from other
“This requirement was set up to prevent private hospitals from sending Covid-19 patients en-masse to government centres in Bengaluru as it would overwhelm existing bed numbers,” explained Dr Radhakrishna H R, Medical Superintendent of C V Raman Hospital. But one government source termed the requirement outrageous, as it consumes too much time.
“There is no law that says that a Bengaluru hospital bed is only for a resident of Bengaluru. We are all operating under the aegis of the National Disaster Management Act, and that act is applicable across all districts,” the source said.
The source added that Sayeed had sought a bed in the city because there are no doctors on Covid duty during the night hours at Ramnagara’s district hospital. He has since been shifted to Victoria Hospital.
Dr B R Venkateshaiah, the medical superintendent of K C General, confirmed that the hospital was not taking out-of-district patients without the respective DHO’s letter. This letter is subsequently sent to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, which allots the bed.
“Out-of-district patients must have a valid reason for trying to get a bed at a city hospital. If this requirement is not there, we would get many patients from other districts,” Dr Venkateshaiah said.