Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has sent out a clear message to the state’s hospitals: keep your mouth shut about any oxygen crisis or face action.
At an online meeting on Sunday evening, Adityanath asked senior administrative and police officers, including divisional commissioners and inspectors-general, to crack down on hospitals that discharge patients citing an oxygen shortage or complain to the media about the crisis, a senior health department official said.
“The chief minister said that action must be initiated against hospitals that put up notices saying they had no oxygen and the patients should be shifted elsewhere. He said there should be a probe to establish whether they deliberately tried to create panic,” the official said.
“He (Adityanath) said there is no scarcity of oxygen in Uttar Pradesh. He said the government was ensuring the availability of the gas at every public and private hospital, but its misuse has to be stopped.”
According to the official, some of Adityanath’s subsequent directives, however, appeared an indirect acknowledgement of the problem.
“He asked the officials to ensure that every government or private hospital with 100 or more beds had an oxygen plant. He told them to prepare proposals and send them to the chief secretary,” the official said.
Many hospitals in Lucknow and other parts of the state had put up notices at their gates over the weekend declaring an oxygen shortage and advising families of Covid patients to shift them elsewhere.
An executive of a private hospital in Lucknow, who asked not to be named, said: “I invite him (Adityanath) to visit every hospital and audit the oxygen supply. If he does so honestly, he would find himself guilty of having left the hospitals and the people in the lurch.”
He added: “The chief minister has no problem that graveyards and cremation grounds are running out of space. All he wants is that the hospitals fulfil his agenda of hiding the truth.”
Several doctors from the Lakhimpur Kheri, Firozabad, Bareilly and Meerut districts on Monday told local reporters they continued to face an oxygen crisis.
Dr Sanjay Jain of Anand Hospital, Meerut, said: “We shifted 20 patients from our hospital to Aryavart Hospital because of the oxygen shortage. We need 300 to 400 cylinders a day but are getting only 150.”
Dr Rohit Kamboj of Meerut’s Nutema Hospital said: “We have 80 (Covid) patients. The oxygen shortage is hampering their treatment.”
A government doctor from the Firozabad district hospital, seeking anonymity, said: “We don’t have oxygen. When we demand 100 cylinders, officials give us 10. The patients’ relatives are restless and are taking them to other places.”
On Saturday, 10 hospitals in Agra were forced to discharge all their Covid patients —about 1,000 in all — because of a lack of oxygen, Dr O.P. Yadav, district president of the Indian Medical Association, had said.
Dr Surendra Singh of Yashwant Hospital, Agra, had told reporters on Saturday: “We were promised 50 oxygen cylinders a week but the government gave us only 5 cylinders over the last 10 days. We discharged our (Covid) patients when we had no option left.”