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Hospital fails to protect patients from Legionnaires’ disease

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

Basildon Hospital’s inability to control legionella bacteria has resulted in the deaths of two people since 2007, a court has heard. The Essex-based hospital has been criticised for their high mortality rates after a fatal legionella infestation killed two patients and infected six others over the last 6 years. The hospital “apologised severely” in January for failing to abide by the Health and Safety at Work Act, and was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday.

The deaths of 74-year-old James Compton from Billericay (who died in 2007), and 54-year-old Raymond Cackett from South Ockendon (who died in 2010), came under section three of the Health and Safety at Work Act as the hospital failed to ‘protect visitors and patients’.

Fifteen-year battle with Legionella

Basildon Hospital was one of the fourteen hospitals named in Sir Bruce Keogh’s report for having worryingly high death rates. Prosecutor Pascal Bates said that the hospital had been battling Legionnaires’ disease for the last fifteen years. 

The court heard that the spread of the disease was partially down to “inappropriate cost saving measures” that were taken between 2006-07 on the chemical treatment of the hospital’s water system. Other errors that allowed the disease to spread included: poorly cleaned shower heads and thermostatic mixing valves, alongside “super heating” water pipes that may have caused the bacteria to proliferate in the cold water pipes nearby.

Iain Daniels spoke on behalf of the Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust, saying: “The trust acknowledges it failed to provide a safe environment but this has not been through a want of effort, funds or desire.

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