Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya on Tuesday, 4 May, alleged widespread corruption in allocating COVID-19 beds, in an embarrassment for his own party, which is in power in the state, led by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.
This at a time when critical COVID-19 patients are dying in want of oxygen, ICU, and ventilator beds. Moreover, the state is facing a massive shortage of medical oxygen. He said that the investigation by his office has unearthed a “dishonourable and an unholy nexus” of representatives of zonal helplines, BBMP officials, and hospitals, which allegedly created a false scarcity of beds.
Addressing reporters, Tejasvi spoke about the situation that distressed family and friends are facing. “Getting a bed for a COVID-19 patient is a nightmare. The bed booking software (portal) always shows that the beds are occupied.” He was accompanied by Ravi Subramanya, his uncle and MLA of Basavanagudi.
Speaking on the issue of malpractice, he said, “Upon investigation, it came to light that some Arogya Mitras deputed in private hospitals, BBMP helpline, and bed booking system incharges as well as certain private hospitals have created artificial scarcity by resorting to a few unscrupulous methods and are consequently denying deserving patients much needed hospital care.”
He said in as many as 4,000+ instances, the BBMP incharge books the bed in the name of an asymptomatic patient as soon as he or she is informed of a vacant bed. “Thereafter, the same bed is allotted to another patient after a few hours — either based on monetary considerations or influence by authorities in other cases. The common man calling the helpline is left high and dry without any redressal,” he told reporters.
Tejasvi’s team has shared a document that lists at least 12 such cases. One such example is of Narasamma (name changed), who was booked in three hospitals and was not informed about even one. “Surprising fact is that she did not even need hospitalisation. She has recovered and is stable now,” the note adds.
In other instances, a large number of patients are curiously admitted mainly after midnight in certain hospitals. For them, the allotment and admission takes place in a matter of a few seconds, which was realistically not possible. He cited multiple such instances taking place in Manipal Hospitals, Navachetana Hospital, Aster CMI, and Aster RV Hospital among others.
“How is it that a common man is made to run pillar to post to find one hospital bed for his family member? Are there really no hospital beds available for an entire day for patients? When each of the zones and the 108 helpline are producing daily reports of an average of 100 bookings done per day, who are the patients being admitted to hospitals and given COVID-19 treatment?” he asked further.
Tejasvi alleged another curious concept of beds being wasted as those beds are auto unblocked after a patient does not turn up in the hospital, 12 hours after the bed is booked. He cited 16 such instances and pointed out that “a more deserving patient is denied a hospital bed for a person who is not even interested in getting admitted”.
He also listed another instance where a patient was allegedly asked to pay money upfront for a bed. He alleged the police have arrested the tout after being tipped by his office.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute)