The Gujarat High Court’s division bench of Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Ilesh Vora has warned the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital to be prepared for a surprise visit by them to ascertain the quality of care being rendered to COVID-19 patients admitted in the hospital and the working condition of the medical staff.
The warning came after the Gujarat government rushed to the high court seeking an urgent hearing of an application trying to combat the severe criticism by the bench for the poor handling and mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis in the state, especially in Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.
The bench said: “The Superintendent of the Civil Hospital and other authorities of the Health Department of Gujarat shall keep themselves ready to find our presence one fine morning on a given day in the Civil Hospital. This would put an end to all the controversies with regard to the functioning of the Civil Hospital at Ahmedabad”.
The government in its civil application pointed out that the court should not have taken into consideration an anonymous letter reportedly written by a resident doctor of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital that pointed out several mismanagements prevalent in the hospital and their poor working conditions. The government argued that several measures have been taken to improve the management systems in Civil Hospital and the situation is not bad as mentioned in the anonymous letter.
The court, after going through the contents of the government’s application that aimed to create a rosy picture of the Civil Hospital, pointed out: “The matter does not end here. It is too early for this court to give any final certificate to the state government as regards the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad”.
It also directed the government to form a committee to look into the contents of the anonymous letter reportedly written by a resident doctor and ascertain its veracity rather than straightaway treating it as “rubbish”.
The government also mentioned that health minister Nitin Patel had visited the Civil Hospital five times in the last two months. Similarly, it claimed that health secretary Jayanti Ravi has also visited the hospital several times and interacted with doctors and nursing staff.
Notably, the court in its last order had severely criticised Gujarat’s health administration including the health minister and health secretary for the poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The court had remarked: “We wonder, how many times the Health Minister of the State has visited the Civil Hospital at Ahmedabad so as to keep a watch or take stock of what is going on at the Civil Hospital. Does the Health Minister of the State of Gujarat has any idea about the problems which the patients, doctors, nursing staff and other employees are facing as on date? How many times the Health Minister has interacted with the Medical Officers and other staff members in person so as to understand their difficulties and problems?”
It had also remarked: “We wonder whether the Chief Secretary of the Health Department has any idea as to what is going on in the Civil Hospital? We wonder how many times the Chief Secretary of the Health Department has paid visit to the Civil Hospital? Is the State Government aware of the hard fact that the patients at the Civil Hospital are dying because of lack of adequate number of ventilators? How does the State Government propose to tackle this problem of ventilators?”