The Delhi government is planning to revive a website that live-tracks the availability of free beds at private hospitals for people from economically weaker sections (EWS).
The website, which was set up nearly five years ago to ensure private hospitals set up on subsidised or public land did not deny hospital admission to the EWS category patients, has not been working for two years primarily because “the people running it have quit and with them all the passwords have been lost”.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi government to restart the defunct website.
The government is now considering engaging National Informatics Centre, the government’s digital “builder”, to redevelop the website using their own software and hiring professionals by creating new state government posts.
“The processes are on. The NIC has already submitted their proposal stating that they would use their own software and redevelop the website. We would also have to create new posts for the technical staff needed, which will take some time,” said Dr Kirti Bhushan, Delhi’s director general of health services.
The website shows data that is two years old and puts the number of available beds at 640. The number has since then gone up to more than 700, with more critical care beds being earmarked for the EWS category at private hospitals.
The website provided a live update on the number of free beds under different specialities, including critical care. “This saved sick patients a lot of trouble as they did not have to travel from one hospital to another in search of the type of bed that was required. Now, with the website being defunct, this is not possible,” said advocate Ashok Agarwal, a member of the EWS beds monitoring committee.
“The website still shows hospitals that have shut down and has not added new hospitals to the list. It does not mention the additional critical care beds added by Delhi government about seven months ago,” said Agarwal.
Private hospitals have to mandatorily reserve a certain number of free beds for poor patients because they are built on receiving subsidised public land.
The hospitals have to treat 25% poor patients in out-patient departments and 10% in in-patien
t free of cost, including free stay, consultations, diagnostics and medicines.
“The Delhi government has nearly 11,000 beds in their hospitals, the beds for poor patients in private hospitals add another 7% -8% to it. It is a big deal and the website helped in better utilisation of these beds,” said Agarwal.