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Hospital admits failing to protect patients from Legionella
BASILDON Hospital has admitted failing to protect patients from the deadly Legionella bacteria.
Eight people contracted the deadly bug at Basildon Hospital between 2004 and 2010 and at least two of those died.
The trust in charge of running the hospital is being prosecuted for a string of health and safety breaches, which led to eight patients contracting the fatal virus between February 28 2004 and December 31, 2010, and caused the death of two men, James Compton and Raymond Cackett.
The other patients have been named as Egbert Van Nuil, Lyn Kilshaw, Roy Leech, Joyce Limbert, Francis Nutt and Verona Hughes.
After being fined £25,000 for similar failings following the death of George Bate in 2002, who also contracted legionnaires, just over ten years on the trust is being hauled in front of the courts again and an initial hearing was held at Chelmsford Magistrate’s Court today, January 29.
Pascal Bates, barrister for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said between 2006 and 2007 the hospital’s chemical treatment of the water system was reduced - legionella bacterium can live in all types water, but it only becomes a risk to health when the temperature allows the bacteria to grow rapidly, such as in water systems which are not properly designed, installed and/or maintained.
Mr Bates described the move as an “inappropriate cost saving measure” and said the trust had fell "markedly short" in dealing with a "chronic" legionella infestation.
Clare Panniker, chief executive of Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Experts agree that eradicating legionella is practically impossible, but controlling it at Basildon Hospital has always been taken extremely seriously, with £5 million invested and numerous changes and improvements made over the past seven years.
“The trust has not had any cases of legionnaires disease since 2011 and we continue to work robustly with all supporting agencies and experts, and the Health and Safety Executive, to do all we can to combat legionella.”
The case has been committed to Chelmsford Crown Court for sentence on March 14.
*Full special report in Wednesday's Echo