26 July 2021 Man dismissed over Highlands school Legionella concerns

posted 27 Jul 2021, 07:52 by Ian Clarenbone

Bev Parkinson raised concerns in a report about water systems at some Highlands schools

Bev Parkinson wrote a report critical of his employer, Mears Facilities Management. He said the design and management of water systems at some Highland Council schools made the chances of Legionella bacteria occurring "more likely".

Mears argued there was awareness of the risk and measures were in place.

Mr Parkinson sent his report to Highland Council after the bacteria, which can potentially cause Legionnaires' disease and its pneumonia-type symptoms, was detected in water tests at five schools in the local authority area in 2019. Mears argued there was already awareness of the risk and the report had brought the company into disrepute.

Mr Parkinson, a contracts manager, was suspended and disciplined. The tribunal heard he felt forced to resign. Following the employment tribunal, the company has been ordered to pay Mr Parkinson almost £9,000.

In his judgement, employment judge James Hendry said he had "struggled to understand" Mears' position in the case. He said: "They appeared to take pains to minimise what seems to have been serious and long-standing difficulties." The judge added he could "quite appreciate" Mr Parkinson had become "increasingly concerned" as he was the designated "responsible person, potentially someone who carried legal liability for the continuing state of affairs".

Following the release of the judgement, Mears said: "We are naturally disappointed in the judge's verdict, and we fail to understand how this decision has been reached considering the evidence we supplied to the court. However, our contract is to provide facilities management to our partners in the Highlands and that is what we will continue to focus our energies on."

20 July 2021 'Elevated levels' of Legionella found at Darlington Memorial Hospital

posted 20 Jul 2021, 05:32 by Ian Clarenbone

THE showers on a hospital's maternity unit will not be in use for weeks after special equipment was installed to stop Legionella from entering its water system. The filtering equipment had to be installed at Darlington Memorial Hospital after elevated levels of Legionella was discovered during routine testing of water samples on the site.

A spokeswoman for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said no infections linked to the bacteria – which can cause Legionnaires' disease – had been identified in either current or recently discharged patients, adding that the situation was being monitored. But as a result, the trust has had to install filters connected to all showers and cold water taps to maintain the hospital's drinking supply. It means there is not sufficient water pressure on the maternity unit, which is at the top of the hospital, to allow women to have showers on either the labour or ante-natal ward. It also means the hospital's water birthing facility is not in use.

The new equipment aimed at restoring shower facilities is scheduled to arrive by September 9. It is understood the unit has been without showers for a number of weeks.

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said, “As part of routine and regular testing of our water supply, elevated levels of Legionella have been detected in water samples from several areas across the Darlington Memorial Hospital site. We are managing this in line with national guidance. No infections linked to Legionella have been identified either in current or recently discharged patients and we are continuing to closely monitor and assess the situation. We have put in place a series or proportionate mitigating actions to minimise the risk. These include filters connected to all cold water taps - maintaining our drinking water supply, and to showers. Our maternity unit is at the top of our hospital tower block resulting in reduced water pressure in the showers although baths across the hospital remain in use. Delivery of equipment to improve water pressure is expected within weeks, meanwhile, women are able to shower on alternative wards. The birthing pool at Darlington Memorial Hospital is not currently being used. We apologise for this inconvenience and as part of ante-natal arrangements women wishing to use a birthing pool, are being offered the option of going to our Durham hospital – University Hospital of North Durham.”

 Darlington MP Peter Gibson said he had been contacted by "one or two" constituents about the issue. He said: "I am aware that the Memorial Hospital has had a new water cleaning system installed to make sure contaminated water can't reach the hospital." He added: "The hospital is taking the right precautions."

30 June 2021 Hot tubs linked to Legionnaires' disease

posted 5 Jul 2021, 03:51 by Ian Clarenbone

Hot tubs can be relaxing but, if not cleaned and maintained properly, pose a number of health risks 
When it comes to summer garden accessories, recently not much else has been able to top the demand for a hot tub. Year after year, people are flocking to buy their own garden spa, jacuzzi or hot pool, where they can sit back and relax with a glass of something, while they watch the sun set.

However, when taking on a hot tub for your garden, many people are still underestimating just how much work goes into maintaining it - with some likely spending less time cleaning their hot tub as they should be. Alongside the fact that it's a bit disgusting to be sitting in that same dirty water everyday, it can also be deadly - leading to water bacteria that can make yourself and your jacuzzi-guests extremely ill.

So what do you need to know - not only as a hot tub owner, but as someone heading off on a hot tub holiday, spa trip or somewhere that boasts their own jacuzzi?

According to an article by Legionellacontrol.com: "Infectious water-borne agents can be easily introduced into a spa pool from a variety of sources, including bathers, dirt entering the hot tub and from the water itself. Bathers using spa pools can be at risk of infections such as E.Coli and folliculitis, and skin and other infections caused by the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium. But it is Legionella that poses the most serious risk, as this is the bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a severe pneumonia like illness which can in some cases prove fatal. Once Legionella bacteria enter artificial water systems such as domestic plumbing systems (taps, showers etc.), ornamental fountains, hot tubs and spa pools, there can be the potential for the bacteria to multiply rapidly and contaminate the supply to dangerous concentrations.”

"Legionella contamination of water can be a serious problem in spa baths for a number of reasons:
The water in spa baths is typically heated to a temperature that is perfect for the bacteria to grow and multiply. The ideal temperature range for such growth is between 20°C and 45°C.
Contaminants including dead skin cells and dirt from the people using spa pools provide an excellent food for the bacteria, aiding their growth.
The spa’s pipework for the water and air circulation ensures there is a large surface area for the bacteria to grow on.
The fact that the water in a spa pool is often vigorously agitated (or aerated) results in aerosols and sprays containing water droplets being formed, from which the Legionella bacteria can be inhaled."

How long does it take for Legionella to grow in a hot tub?

Harmful Legionella bacteria can incubate in as little as two to 10 days, so anyone who isn't on top of maintaining, disinfecting, cleaning and chlorinating these certain appliances, could soon be at risk.

How to prevent Legionnaires' Disease and how to keep your hot tub clean

The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) state that there is now a seasonal rise in cases of Legionnaires' Disease between the months of June and October, in people's own back gardens in some cases.

If you are considering installing a hot tub or spa bath, the CIPHE advises using a professional plumbing engineer for installation. Hot tub suppliers and fitters will often have plenty of information on how to keep your hot tub well-maintained and clean. Not only will it ensure your pricey investment lasts longer, but it will also keep you and whoever else may be using it, safe and sound.

28 May 2021 Patients being moved out of Ward 7 at Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin due to Legionella risk

posted 1 Jun 2021, 01:34 by Ian Clarenbone

Outlets were sampled as part of ongoing redevelopment work in that part of the hospital, with results revealing water quality issues. To date, no cases of Legionnaires disease have been found in either patients or staff. However, until the risk can be properly investigated and managed, the area will be closed to patients and staff.

Alasdair Pattinson, the hospital's General Manager, said: “I know this move will cause inconvenience and disruption for patients, their families, and staff. However, the safety of everyone in Dr Gray’s Hospital must be a priority. Until we can properly understand and deal with this water quality issue, this is the best course of action.”

“The hospital is busy at present and making changes like this will likely affect the wider staff team. I am extremely grateful to everyone working on this for their flexibility and hard work, at an already pressured time.  I want to reassure both patients and their families that care will continue to be delivered, throughout the hospital, to the same high standard. We will be in contact directly with those affected to advise where in the hospital they will be accommodated.”

Ward 7 at Dr Gray’s Hospital is on the first floor. The floor below houses a number of Allied Health Professional teams, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and dietitians, who will also move to other locations while works are carried out. Some medical and administrative staff also have offices in this area and will be relocated in the interim. Some appointments may have to be rescheduled or relocated. Patients will be contacted directly by the clinical team as required.

Moray's SNP MSP Richard Lochhead and Conservative MP Douglas Ross both called for investigations into the water issue to be completed as promptly as possible.
Mr Lochhead said: “Clearly patient safety is absolutely essential so, although this decision may cause some concern amongst patients and staff, it seems the right decision to move patients from Ward 7 to another part of the hospital until these water quality issues are resolved.”

“I’m sure that Ward 7 patients will continue to receive excellent care from the dedicated staff at Dr Gray’s, and I would only urge NHS Grampian to work to resolve these issues as quickly as possible to minimise disruption for everyone affected, including patients elsewhere in the hospital given existing pressures.”

Mr Ross added: “This is a worrying situation, but I am pleased that NHS Grampian has acted promptly to protect patients and staff. Thankfully, no cases have been found in patients or staff working in Ward 7, or in the other departments but given Ward 7 is an acute elderly admissions ward this is still very concerning for patients, their families and the staff.”

“I hope that the investigation into the water supply can be completed quickly, with appropriate action taken to ensure that patients and staff can safely return to Ward 7 as soon as possible.”

20 May 2021 Aberdeenshire Council HQ closed after suspected Legionella find

posted 21 May 2021, 05:38 by Ian Clarenbone

Aberdeenshire Council has been forced to close its city headquarters – after bacteria was found in the water supply. The local authority detected what is suspected to be Legionella at Woodhill House during routine testing. Woodhill House will remain closed until bacterial experts give the all clear. A spokesman confirmed the find, emphasising no one had taken ill in connection.

The numbers of employees working in the Aberdeenshire Council offices is still understood to be limited, due to the pandemic.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “As part of routine sampling and testing, an early warning flagged that there is a possibility of legionella in the water systems of Woodhill House. Specialists are on site cleaning, flushing and re-testing the water. As a result, the building will be closed until the all-clear is provided. Plans were put in place to move staff who must have a presence in an office, and Public Health advice is being shared with colleagues. Limited staff and partners are present in the building currently, and have been advised by their line manager of what to look out for.”

Concerns raised over inaction at Derry nursing home

posted 6 Oct 2020, 08:02 by Ian Clarenbone

Issues flagged in February were not dealt with until September when Legionella was discovered, and residents relocated

A member of the Western Trust board has raised concerns that an issue with the water supply at Greenhaw Lodge was flagged in February but left unaddressed for seven months. The nursing home is privately owned by Larchwood but the situation is being managed along with the Western Trust, which is the registered local authority, and RQIA.

A meeting of the Western Trust board on October 1 heard that a ‘potential risk’ was highlighted in February but it took until September when dangerous bacteria Legionella was identified in tests for RQIA to relocate 39 elderly residents.

An inspection of Greenhaw Lodge Care Centre was undertaken on September 8 and 10. RQIA identified ‘serious issues’ with the potential to affect the health and wellbeing of 39 elderly patients at the Racecourse Road nursing home. The health watchdog was also concerned about the fitness of the premises, and the governance and management arrangements at the nursing home.

Following its inspection, the management of Greenhaw Lodge was directed to carry out a number of specialist tests, which confirmed concerns about the quality of the water supply. That, together with the significant repairs required to the water system which extends throughout the home, meant that ‘patients were relocated to protect their safety, health and wellbeing while remedial works are carried out’, according to RQIA.

Speaking at a Western Trust board meeting on Thursday, Dr Bob Brown, Executive Director of Nursing and Director of Primary Care & Older People said it was then that microbiology tests of the water were carried out and Legionella was picked up. John McPeake, Non-Executive Director, asked if the Trust should have carried out interim reviews to assess the situation from February onwards with the knowledge that there was a potential problem with the water.

In response, Dr Brown said: “It is not our direct responsibility to undertake water tests in a facility. The work that RQIA would’ve continued to review was ceased on the basis of the first COVID surge so there’s a gap of months, but from the Trust’s perspective, it was not a responsibility for us.”

Mr McPeake said it was concerning that a ‘potential risk could sit for seven months’. He added: “I know it wasn’t Legionella in February but knowing there were problems potentially with water leakage, hot and cold etc. It just strikes me as a flag, let it be red or otherwise, that came up in February and it was allowed to run. Questions have been asked in the past, Mr McPeake said, about ‘what we do when things are truly not right’.

23 September 2020 Londonderry Care Home Residents Moved Amid Water Concerns

posted 25 Sept 2020, 00:33 by Ian Clarenbone

Thirty-nine residents are to be relocated from a care home in Londonderry after concerns were raised about its water supply, the regulator has announced.

Greenhaw Lodge Care Centre said legionella bacteria was found during an inspection on 8 September. It added that no residents or staff have symptoms of Legionnaires' disease.

Care home regulator, the RQIA, said alternative accommodation would be provided during "remedial works".

Greenhaw Lodge, which is run by Larchwood Care Homes, said: "We sincerely apologise to our residents and their families for the inconvenience that this will cause. Our staff's immediate priority is to update the families of residents and manage their safe rehoming, with as little disruption as possible. This is being managed in partnership with Western Health and Social Care Trust, and RQIA. We will use this time to upgrade the facility in-line with the modern requirements needed for the longer term well-being of the residents in our care."

The regulator said residents were being moved from the home "to protect their safety, health and wellbeing". It added that significant repairs were required to the water system as it extended throughout the complex.

14 September 2020 Outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease in West Bromwich

posted 15 Sept 2020, 06:59 by Ian Clarenbone

An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease is being investigated in West Bromwich – as Covid cases continued to surge across the borough.

In the latest health crisis Public Health England (PHE) Midlands, the Health and Safety Executive and Sandwell Council are jointly investigating three laboratory confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ and six suspected cases in West Bromwich. No direct link between the cases has been found, although they are believed to have originated from a "common source". Eight of the cases were reported to PHE in the last week and a single case reported in July has subsequently been linked to the outbreak. Six of the patients are receiving treatment in hospital.

Dr Adrian Philips, consultant in communicable disease control at PHE Midlands Health Protection Team, said: “While we do not currently have a direct link between these cases, the evidence we have points to the possibility that there is a common source. We are taking detailed histories of the movements of the individuals to see if there are similar patterns which would help to identify a common local source of infection. Legionnaires’ disease is a rare but potentially life-threatening illness. It is caused by a bacterium commonly associated with water systems and cannot be passed from person to person. As a precaution we are working with the Health and Safety Executive and Sandwell Council to identify and control any possible sources of the disease.”

A Sandwell Council spokesman said: "The council is working closely with PHE and the Health and Safety Executive to find the source of this outbreak and we will continue to do everything we can to support the investigation.”

The early symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include 'flu-like' illness with muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, dry cough and fever which can then lead to pneumonia.

Action to date includes identifying, sampling and advising on the disinfection of potential sources of the bacteria, such as cooling towers in areas around West Bromwich that the cases may have each visited. Health care staff, including GPs, have been alerted to look out for others with similar symptoms.

People are advised if they are feeling unwell with any similar unexplained symptoms to Legionnaire's disease to contact their GP, ring NHS 111 or visit www.nhs.uk

20 August 2020 Legionella closes part of Royal Navy HQ in Portsmouth

posted 21 Aug 2020, 08:05 by Ian Clarenbone

Part of the Royal Navy's headquarters has been shut after Legionella was found in the water system. Leach building, part of Navy Command headquarters in Portsmouth Harbour, has closed temporarily while the bacteria is treated and flushed out.

The First Sea Lord - the professional head of the Navy - is among the staff based at the building in HMS Excellent on Whale Island, Hampshire. There are no reports of staff with symptoms so far. A Royal Navy spokeswoman said there had been "no impact" on operations
In May, Public Health England urged businesses to flush out the hot and cold water supply in their buildings before reopening to prevent the bacteria from spreading. It said the chances of the bacteria forming would increase if no action was taken during the warmer months.

27 July 2020 Traces of Legionella are found in the showers at Hythe Swimming Pool in Kent

posted 3 Aug 2020, 03:23 by Ian Clarenbone

Swimmers who used a public pool have been contacted after traces of Legionella were found in the showers. The potentially concerning bacteria was discovered following routine tests at Hythe Swimming Pool, in South Road, Hythe on the same day it re-opened since before lockdown.

Folkestone and Hythe District Council say the Legionella was found in the showers in the women's changing rooms. The authority says the type found is common and 'very low risk' but that they have still contacted the people who used the facilities to let them know. The showers are now closed while treatment is carried out, but the pool remains open.

A spokesman for the district council said: "Like other swimming pools, Hythe Swimming Pool routinely tests for Legionella in its water systems. On Monday we received a notification that traces of Legionella had been found in the showers in the women’s changing room. The type of Legionella found is common and is very low risk. However, we have contacted the small number of people who used the women’s changing room before the discovery to let them know. The showers were closed as soon as we received this news to allow the necessary treatment to be undertaken. Following treatment - and tests to confirm this has been effective - the showers at the pool will reopen. The pool is unaffected and remains open for swimming."

Hythe pool only re-opened to the public for the first time since March on Monday (July 27). Many new rules were put into place to keep people safe amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This includes visitors arriving swim ready, wearing masks in the reception area and lockers being out of bounds.

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