Gorakhpur hospital deaths: 7 red flags in 7 months, Oxygen firm warned it would cut supply
# “The delay in payment is reaching six months… in case of further delay, the entire responsibility would be of BRD Medical.”
# “We would be unable to continue supply… in case of non-payment of dues… it would not be our responsibility.”
These were the last two letters sent by Pushpa Sales Pvt Limited — the company which supplies liquid oxygen to Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur where 60 children have died since August 7 — to the principal, Rajeev Mishra. From February to August this year, the company sent at least seven reminders, asking the hospital to clear its pending dues.
The letters were sent by the company’s sales manager in Gorakhpur, Deepankar Sharma. Speaking to The Sunday Express, Sharma said they had also sent a legal notice to the hospital administration on July 31, but there was no response.
“As per the agreement, payments should be made within 15 days, and the arrears should never exceed Rs 10 lakh. Our payment was due since November 2016, and only two partial payments were released (in May and June). However, we continued to supply oxygen for about nine months on humanitarian grounds. But finally, we did not have enough funds to pay the company from which we source oxygen,” said Sharma, adding that they maintained supply till August 4.
“After waiting for about three months, we sent the first letter in February 2017. The payment due was then around Rs 42 lakh. We continued to send reminders — in April, May, June, two in July and August — informing the hospital that it was becoming difficult for us to ensure supply from our own funds any longer. The total amount due was over Rs 60 lakh,” said Sharma.
On Friday afternoon, after the deaths were reported, the hospital administration paid about Rs 20 lakh. According to Pushpa Sales, the total pending dues is now about Rs 40 lakh.
“The delay in payment is reaching six months (and) in case of further delay, the entire responsibility would be of BRD Medical,” the company said in a letter dated July 18, 2017. A copy of the letter was sent to the Gorakhpur district magistrate also.
“We would be unable to continue supply in the future in case of non-payment of dues, and it would not be our responsibility any longer,” it reiterated in another letter dated August 1.
Pointing out that Pushpa Sales was just the distributor and the oxygen is sourced from a company in Rajasthan, Sharma said it would take another day before proper supply is restored to the hospital.