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30/09/16 Hospice sentenced after patient dies from Legionnaires' disease

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St Christopher's Hospice in London has been sentenced after a patient died from Legionnaires' disease and a worker suffered life-changing effects as a result of also contracting the disease.

Southwark Crown Court was told that the man was admitted to the hospice on 9 July, 2012, before dying at a nearby hospital on 17 August having contracted Legionnaires' disease while at the hospice. The orderly worker who was also affected was in a coma for 18 days.

“The risks of legionella are well known in the healthcare industry," commented HSE inspector Matt Raine after the hearing. "St Christopher's Hospice had implemented some measures in an attempt to control Legionella. However, they failed to appoint a competent person to manage the risk of Legionella in the hospice’s hot and cold water system. “The failures in the management of Legionella led to conditions in the hot and cold water system that favoured the proliferation of Legionella. It was entirely foreseeable that there would be risk of contracting Legionnaires' disease for patients and employees working at this hospice.”

Steve Tugwell, water treatment director for TSS Facilities, said: "It always seems to be a failure in management that leads to these cases. It is very simple to set up safeguards against this potentially fatal disease, starting with basic Legionella training for the responsible person along with a Legionella risk assessment. Organisations that fail to follow the appropriate legislation are endangering lives as well as leaving themselves open to prosecution."

The hospice, which pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 3(1) and 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, was sentenced to a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £25,000.

To talk to TSS Facilities about your Legionella risk assessment, give us a call on 01273 719111 or email ask@tssfacilities.co.uk.

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