SC: private hospitals must accord priority to elderly for treatment amid pandemic

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, elderly citizens should be given priority in admission and treatment at private hospitals as well as government medical institutions.

In August, last year, the top court had directed only government hospitals to give priority in admission and treatment to the elderly. Today, a bench comprising of justices Ashok Bhushan and R S Reddy modified this order citing that the elderly people are most vulnerable to coronavirus.

The order from the top court following submissions from of senior advocate Ashwani Kumar, appearing as petitioner in-person before the court, submitted that except Odisha and Punjab no other state has given details on steps taken in accordance with previous directions issued by the top court. Kumar contended state governments should issue fresh SOPs based on directions of the court. He added that court may consider giving directions to the health and social welfare department in the matter.

The top court has asked state governments to respond to Kumar’s suggestion within three weeks.

In September last year, the Supreme Court had asked states to file a detailed affidavit within 4 weeks on a plea seeking directions to provide masks and sanitisers for senior citizens, who are living alone, amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Then, Kumar had informed the top court that affidavits filed by states based on August 4 direction of the court lack detail on actions taken to address the issue. Kumar submitted before the bench that except Orissa and Punjab, the affidavits on record lack details.

On August 4, the top court had directed that all pensioners should be regularly paid pension, and states should provide them necessary medicines, masks, sanitisers and other essentials amid the ongoing pandemic. Kumar had argued that the elderly amid the pandemic need more care and protection.