Sharp fall of Covid-19 cases in Bengaluru invokes BBMP to alter bed-blocking policy

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With the declining Covid-19 cases in the capital city of Karnataka, Bengaluru, there has been a lack of demand for beds in the private hospitals and medical colleges has invoked the civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagare Palike (BBMP) to make a formal amendment with respect to bed blocking protocol.

As per the recent circular dated on November 17, the Covid-19 patients will be directed for treatment to the private hospitals only when the beds in the government hospitals are occupied by 90 per cent.

The circular stated, “All bed-blocking for Covid positive cases taken up by the zonal command and control centres… for general and HDU beds shall be restricted to government hospitals and government medical colleges only.”

Regarding the provisions of ICU and ICU-ventilator beds, the government facilities will also cater to that except for in critical cases.

Presently, the private hospitals have to provide for 20 per cent beds and as much as 9 per cent by the medical colleges. From the total count of 9,431 beds allocated for Covid-19 treatment in both these units, only 1,364 beds have been occupied by Covid-19 patients.

As the dramatic decline in Covid-19 cases continues from 63,180 cases in first half of October to 37,778 in the other half of the month to 19,355 cases in November, only 18,364 were hospitalized in early October to 10,972 for the other half and 5,894 were hospitalized in November. The hospital bed occupancy has decreased drastically.

The Suvarna Aarogya Suraksha Trust had written a letter to the BBMP commissioner and the Chief Secretary advocating for a change in the strategy. BBMP Commissioner Manjunatha Prasad stated the decision will aid the government to save any unwanted expenses. He said, “When we have all the facilities available at government hospitals, there is no need to send patients to private hospitals and then pay them.” Manjunath Prasad stated the decision is still pending by the state government whether the Covid-19 beds in private hospitals would be used for non-Covid patients or not. Another official revealed the government wants to be prepared for the increase in cases, so the beds need not be relinquished. He said, “If we give them back the beds now just because the Covid-19 numbers have come down, getting the beds back in the time of a crisis could be challenging.”

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