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Punjab hospital blames Capt Amarinder Singh govt for oxygen shortage as six critical patients die, govt blames hospital for admitting patients

Sunil Devgan, the managing director of Neelkanth Hospital alleged, "Heavy police force has been deployed outside the oxygen units to prevent oxygen supply to private hospitals."

Six critically ill patients suffering from Covid-19 died at a private hospital on Saturday in Amritsar, Punjab due to a shortage of oxygen. Now, the hospital authorities have pinned the blame on the district administration for prioritizing government hospitals for oxygen supply. 

Sunil Devgan, the managing director of Neelkanth Hospital where the patients died, said, “The district administration bought oxygen cylinders from suppliers for government hospitals. It is responsible for the (oxygen) shortage in private hospitals,” 

He added that the families of the patients were informed about the limited stock of oxygen and were given an option to shift them to a different facility. “But they declined the option,” said Devgan.

Devgan informed that even after the death of patients, only five oxygen cylinders have been supplied to the hospital. The hospital chairman claimed that three main oxygen suppliers have said that government hospitals are being prioritised.

“Heavy police force has been deployed outside the oxygen units to prevent oxygen supply to private hospitals,” Devgan alleged.

Denying the claims, an official spokesperson claimed that oxygen was being supplied to private hospitals without any prejudice and that the government hospital was also running short of oxygen supply on Friday night.

Government blames the hospital

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has ordered the Amritsar Deputy Commissioner (DC) to initiate a thorough probe into the incident. Reprimanding the hospital authorities, he alleged that the hospital prima facie seems to have flouted orders given to all private hospitals facing oxygen shortage to shift their patients to government medical colleges.

Amritsar deputy commissioner Gurpreet Singh Khaira also held the hospital responsible for not acting on time. Reacting to Neelkanth’s announcement about the shortage in a meeting held with owners of private hospitals on Friday, Khaira said, “We told private hospitals not to admit any critical patient or those who need oxygen if they have shortage as we could arrange only a few cylinders for GMCH (Government Medical College Hospital), where more patients are admitted.”

“Private hospitals are responsible for arranging the required number of (oxygen) cylinders. If Neelkanth Hospital was short of supply, they should have referred the patients to other hospitals,” he alleged.

Punjab Minister OP Soni in a media interaction also alleged, “Amritsar’s Neelkanth Hospital authorities should have brought the matter of oxygen shortage to the notice of the Administration.”

The DC has set up a two-member committee, comprising a PCS officer, Dr Rajat Oberoi, who is also in-charge of the death analysis committee, and a civil surgeon from Amritsar, to probe the matter, an official spokesperson said.

Amritsar civil surgeon Charanjit Singh also ensured an inquiry into the incident and said no such incident will be allowed to take place henceforth.

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