(This was originally posted in The Print by Snehesh Alex Philip)
New Delhi: In a move that gave Army doctors some tense moments in the national capital, the daily oxygen allocation of the Base Hospital was cut by the Delhi government Monday. This forced the Army to approach the Ministry of Defence for additional allocation of oxygen and also arrange it on their own.
However, according to Army sources, there is currently no need to panic as oxygen levels are being maintained in the hospital and more arrangements are being made. They noted that there was no issue with the Research and Referral Hospital since its oxygen requirement was less, but there were some concerns about the Base Hospital, which has been converted into a 450-bed Covid facility. The majority of its patients, including civilians, need continuous oxygen supply.
“There is no need to panic. Oxygen levels are being maintained. The Base Hospital in Delhi Cantonment has enough oxygen for the time being. The defence ministry has been approached for additional allocation and arrangements are being made,” a senior officer told ThePrint. Sources in the defence ministry also confirmed that the Western Command of the Army had informed the ministry about the oxygen supply allocation and that necessary arrangements were being made to meet the requirement.
Base hospital’s oxygen allocation halved
According to sources familiar with the matter, the crisis began Monday when the Delhi government informed the Base Hospital that its daily allocation was being cut. The hospital requires about 3.4 MT of oxygen daily but the Delhi government, which is facing an acute shortage of oxygen, was able to provide only about 1 MT.
On Monday evening, the doctors were informed that this has been reduced further by nearly half. The sources added that while the Army has systems in place to cater to their hospitals, the force finds itself stretched thin because of the civilian demand for hospital beds and oxygen.
ThePrint had earlier reported that the armed forces’ Medical Corps has been reeling under pressure because of the increasing demand from the civilian side as well as its own. The Corps has a limited number of doctors, nurses and paramedics to spare. Meanwhile, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia wrote to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Monday, calling for the Army to set up 11,000 beds, including 1,000 ICU ones, in the national capital. However, many in the defence establishment wondered where the infrastructure, including oxygen and medical staff, would come from for these additional beds.