Basildon hospital pleads guilty over Legionella cases

BASILDON hospital has admitted to not protecting the general public from the potentially lethal consequences of Legionnaire’s disease reports the BBC.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the beleaguered hospital under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Two patients died in 2007 and 2010 after contracting the disease.

Eight patients and visitors had been affected between 2004 and 2010, Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court was told.

The hospital pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work Act over failing to protect visitors and patients adequately from legionella.

Sentencing will take place at Chelmsford Crown Court on 14 March.

Pascal Bates, from the Health and Safety Executive said: “The hospital’s procedures on legionella fell “markedly short”.

“The hospital had numerous warnings from regulators and consultants which weren’t followed”

“The problem went to board level. The hospital had numerous warnings from regulators and consultants which weren’t followed,”

In the financial year 2006-07 the hospital reduced its clinical treatment to save money, the court heard.

“That was an inappropriate cost saving measure,” Mr Bates said.

Chief executive of Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust, Claire Panniker said: “The hospital had spent £3m and introduced a number of changes in the past decade in an attempt to control legionella.

“It is beyond comprehension that a multi-million hospital failed to have fit-for-purpose control measures in place to combat the growth of legionella bacteria on its site, when private sector companies have established management systems in place to keep legionella bacteria from breeding range by water heating and flushing processes.

As a Health & Safety practitioner in a previous life, I cannot believe that BTUH have only just had to admit liability after a decade long matter.

“Now with the new admission, we must move forward in a new direction of working with the new hospital leadership team; evolving our relationship to that of a ‘critical friend’ to assist them managing out failures, while we do our bit to reduce hospitalisation rates by improving home assistance packages, policing the root causes of unplanned hospitalisations (binge drinking etc.) and ensuring primary care can meet the demands required of it”.

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