Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath late on Wednesday directed criminal action against the former principal of Baba Raghav Das medical college, Rajeev Mishra, and the private agency supplying it liquid oxygen, Pushpa Sales, in connection with the deaths of children on August 10 and 11.
Criminal action would be also taken against Dr. Satish, oxygen supply in-charge and HoD of anaesthesia ward, and Dr. Kafeel Khan, in-charge of nodal 100-bed AES ward in the Gorakhpur hospital where 30 children died on August 10 and 11 allegedly due to disruption of oxygen supply. The government has, however, regularly denied that the deaths were caused by the disruption of oxygen supply.
An FIR is expected to be filed against the indicted doctors, hospital staff and oxygen supplying firm.
Mr. Adityanath issued the directions after considering the recommendations of the four-member committee under Chief Secretary Rajeev Kumar which submitted its report to him on August 20.
Though the contents of the high-level committee probe were not made public, the chief minister’s office issued an action-taken note on the report.
According to a government statement, the probe committee has recommended criminal action against Mr. Mishra, Dr. Kafeel, Dr. Kumar and Pushpa Sales Private Limited.
The government note, however, remains silent on the specific reasons for calling the criminal action and has no mention of the deaths of the children, merely calling it the “Gorakhpur incident”. It also does not clarify if the deaths were caused due to disruption of oxygen supply or other reasons.
The committee has also recommended action against Mr. Mishra, his wife Dr. Poornima Shukla, chief pharmacist Gajanan Jaiswal and hospital accountants under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
A homeopathic medical officer, Ms. Shukla has been accused of interference in the hospital adminstration and of seeking commission in purchase of surgical equipment.
Disciplinary action would be further taken against Mr. Khan, Mr. Kumar, Mr. Jaiswal, Mr. Mishra and other staff for irresponsible behaviour, dereliction of duty and working against the staff behavioural rules.
Dr. Khan, who was suspended on charges of private practice, will face further criminal action after the probe found that he hid facts in his affidavit filed to the Chief Medical Officer of Gorakhpur and violated the rules of the Indian Medical Council.
Mr. Adityanath has also ordered that a special audit be conducted by the CAG into the supply of medicines and chemicals in the hospital in the last three years.
Mr. Adityanath has ordered that strict action be taken immediately against the guilty officials and staff and that they “not be spared at any cost,” the government said.
Under fire for the deaths of the children allegedly due to disruption of oxygen supply over non payment of dues, the Adityanath-government had called a bureaucratic probe under chief secretary Rajeev Kumar.
The probe committee was asked to report the background and sequence of events, the cause of the deaths, responsibility and accountability for the deaths, suggest punitive measures against the guilty and recommendations to be made so that such deaths do not happen in future. Alok Kumar, secretary medical and health, Mukesh Mittal, secretary Finance department and Dr. Hem Chandra, medical superintendent of SGPGI, were the other members of the probe team.
Mr. Adityanath has directed officials to ensure there was no interruption in supply of medicine, chemicals and other essential items in medical colleges and hospitals in the state.
He has told officials to take necessary action on the short-term, mid-term and long-term recommendations made by the committee to prevent such incidents in future and to improve the state of medical colleges in UP.
The report has made several recommendations. As part of its suggestions, the committee has said that to meet the shortage of doctors and specialist doctors in state medical colleges, provision be made for recruitment on basis of campus interviews within six months.
The committee has also said that under the Japanese Encephalitis programme of the Medical and Health directorate it should be ensured that those clearing the Diploma of Child Health be posted in the paediatric intensive care unit wards.
Meanwhile, the government also acted against principal secretary of the medical education department Anita Bhatnagar, transferring her to DG training. Rajnish Dube has been given additional charge of her department.
In an earlier probe report, the District Magistrate of Gorakhpur had also blamed hospital staff and adminstration for the lapse in oxygen supply while not commenting on the cause of deaths.
In his report, the DM had also hinted at financial irregularities in the medical college while holding Pushpa Sales responsible for cutting the supply of crucial liquid oxygen.
Pushpa Sales had, however, dismissed the claims of DM Rajeev Rautela, saying it had proof to show that it did not cut supply of liquid oxygen despite pending payment amounting to nearly ₹70 lakh.