The High Court today directed the health secretary to conduct an inquiry into the reported allegations against some private and government hospitals of denying treatment to patients during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The health secretary has been ordered to submit the inquiry report to the HC by July 21.
During a virtual hearing on five separate writ petitions, the court asked the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to take necessary steps so the patients,who are deprived of treatment at any hospital, can lodge complaints to the office concerned through email.
It asked the authorities concerned to take necessary steps so that the patients suffering from serious diseases like cancer and kidney problems are tested for Covid-19, test reports are provided within 36 to 48 hours and their treatments are ensured at the hospitals concerned.
The government has also been directed to fix the retail and refilling prices of oxygen cylinders in 10 working days.
People can lodge complaints with the Anti-Corruption Commission if they are charged extra for the oxygen cylinders, the court said.
The HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim came up with the directives following hearing of five separate writ petitions filed seeking necessary orders to this effect.
Advocate Jamiul Hoque Faisal and Barrister AKM Ehsanur Rahman, two of the writ petitioners, told The Daily Star today that they have found more than 20 allegations published in different newspapers against some government and private hospitals of denying treatment to the Covid-19 and non Covid-19 patients during the pandemic and submitted a statement containing the reported allegations to the HC.
"The High Court asked us to forward a copy of the statement to the offices concerned of the health secretary and DGHS for necessary action," they said.
Barrister Aneek R Haque, Barrister Mahfuzur Rahman Milon and Advocate Yeadia Zaman also appeared for the writ petitioners while Attorney General Mahbubey Alarm represented the state.
The DGHS has recently submitted a compliance report to the HC, saying it is monitoring whether any hospital refuses to treat patients infected with Covid-19 or not.
If any allegation of denying treatment to patients against any public or private hospital is received, stern action will be taken against the hospital authorities, the DGHS said in the report.
The DGHS submitted the report on June 30 through Deputy Attorney General Amit Talukder in line with the HC's June 15 directives.
Citing the report, Amit told The Daily Star today that the government directed the authorities concerned to fix and display the retail and refilling prices of oxygen cylinders at outlets and shops so that customers are not charged extra.
Following five writ petitions, the same HC bench on June 15 issued several directives and observed that no patient, regardless of whether they are infected with coronavirus, can be deprived of treatment at any government or private hospital.
If a patient dies or is deprived of treatment at a hospital due to negligence, it would be considered a criminal and punishable offence, the HC said.