Delhi LG orders ACB probe into registration of nursing homes after Vivek Vihar fire

- May 28, 2024
| By : Saurav Gupta |

Delhi Lieutenant Governor, Vinai Kumar Saxena, has ordered Anti-Corruption Branch to investigate the private health facilities and find out whether they have valid registration.

Delhi LG orders ACB probe into registration of nursing homes

An Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) inquiry has been ordered by the Delhi Lieutenant Governor, Vinai Kumar Saxena, to check the regulatory management of private health facilities in the Capital after a recent fire incident in Vivek Vihar, where newborn infants lost their lives, put the focus on criminal neglect and connivance of government officials in granting/renewing registration of nursing homes.

In his note to the Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, Saxena said, “I have taken a very stern view on the matter. Though this is a transferred subject, in larger public interest, I am forced to step in, on account of the lack of seriousness on part of authorities entrusted with these responsibilities.”

The ACB probe will assess 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.

He pointed out that the incident, directly related to health and lives of residents of Delhi, had put a serious question mark on the government’s ability to deal with the matter.

“I am disappointed that the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Health Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj have paid only lip service and given sound bites, finding alibis and shirking responsibility. Administration cannot be run on social media, nor by brushing such serious matters under the carpet.”

Also read: Fire breaks out at eye hospital in Delhi’s Paschim Vihar, no injuries reported

He pointed out that over 25% of the nursing homes are running without valid registration.

“I am given to understand that there are 1190 nursing homes, of which more than a quarter are operating without a valid registration. Also, there are many nursing homes in the city which have never applied for a registration but are still operating. Even those nursing homes, which have valid registration, may not be meeting the safety and regulatory standards as prescribed in The Delhi Nursing Homes Registration Act, 1953 and the Rules made thereunder,” he added in the note.

“The very existence of such nursing homes that serve the poor and not so well-off sections of the society, speaks volumes of the larger issue of severe lack of public health infrastructure in the National Capital as well.  This is a larger issue which has been left neglected, contrary to the claims in public domain,” the LG further wrote.

The Lieutenant Governor asked the ACB to undertake inquiry into registration of nursing homes and find out the erring ones.

“In the matter at hand regarding the tragic fire in the nursing home, the ACB is directed to undertake a comprehensive inquiry into the registration of nursing homes in the city to assess how many nursing homes are functioning without valid registrations and whether those which have valid registration are complying with prescribed norms…”

The LG has directed the ACB to ascertain whether comprehensive site inspection was done.

“It may be clearly ascertained during investigation whether the grant of registration or its renewal by the Health Department was done after 100% site inspection. Is there a proper checklist to ensure whether the facility meets the requisite safety norms and has the medical infrastructure and professionals as provided under law?”

The ACB may also determine the connivance and complicity of public servants of the Health Department and bring out the criminal misconduct and negligence in this matter.

Apart from this, the Chief Secretary has been directed to advise all District Magistrates to have a field verification done of their respective areas within two weeks to ascertain the actual number of functional nursing homes, which can then be compared with the list of the Health Department.

“It has also come to my notice that even in this day and age, the registration procedure for nursing homes in Delhi is conducted manually, which leaves a lot of room for discretion, ambiguity and corruption. The Chief Secretary may accordingly ensure that an online portal is made operational with all data of compliances, registration and validity, which is open for public scrutiny,” the LG has added.

Underlining the utter neglect of public health by GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi) and the Health Minister in the city despite the courts heavily coming down upon them, the LG noted, “I recall that the woeful state of affairs of  public health infrastructure in Delhi had forced the Hon’ble Delhi High Court to seek personal appearance of Health Minister and Health Secretary and had upbraided them for non-implementation of Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010.

“In its order dated April 4, 2024, a commitment was given by the minister himself in Court that while the state government is preparing its own legislation on the subject, in the interregnum, it would be adopting the Central law in GNCTD in ‘no later than 4 weeks’. It is shocking to note that in spite of giving a personal assurance in the High Court, the Health Minister has chosen not to act on a matter of such public importance, even after nearly two months, risking contempt of court.”

Also read: Delhi sees over 138% spike in fire cases this month compared to May 2023