In probe prompted by NICU fire, Delhi ACB finds 40 nursing homes violating fire safety norms

New Delhi: Weeks after a deadly fire at a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) claimed the lives of seven newborns in Delhi’s Shahdara district, the anti-corruption branch (ACB) found four nursing homes in the national capital operating without any valid licences and 40 others operating without adequate fire safety measures.

After inspecting 62 nursing homes in Shahdara, West, South East and Rohini, officials found the four unregistered nursing homes in Krishna Nagar (Shahdara), Rajouri Garden (West), Kundli (Rohini) and Devli Khanpur (South East), sources in the ACB told ThePrint.

The ACB initiated the inspection based on an order from the Delhi government’s Department of Vigilance, which was initially asked to look into the registration status of nursing homes in the national capital.
After the deaths of newborns at the Shahdara NICU on 26 May led to a furore, Delhi Lieutenant Governor V.K. Saxena took a “stern view” of the matter and directed the chief secretary to conduct a “comprehensive” probe of all private nursing homes in Delhi. Saxena wrote to Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar asking him to check “how many nursing homes are functioning without valid registrations and whether those which have valid registration are complying with prescribed norms as provided under Delhi Nursing Homes Registration Act, 1953 and the Rules made thereunder”.
‘4 nursing homes had no papers’

A source in the Delhi ACB said the DoE ordered an inquiry on 30 May and the ACB launched its inspection the very same day.

In the first phase of the inspection, investigators said, four districts were earmarked for the inquiry, adding that a report will soon be submitted to the vigilance department. “This was the first phase of the crackdown and we started with four districts. In the next phase, we have identified North, North West, South West and Dwarka districts starting next week,” an ACB official said.

“These four hospitals had no papers at all. If the nursing homes are not registered, all documents are immaterial,” the officer added.

“Teams inspected fire safety measures such as availability of trained staff to deal with fire emergencies and fire extinguishers, assessed structure of nursing home buildings based on approved layouts by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), and registration and their renewals and qualification of medical and non-medical staff,” another officer from the ACB told ThePrint.

Sources added that some nursing homes did not have documents ready for verification and have been asked to provide them online, which will then be followed by another round of physical verification.

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