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

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.

29 July 2020 Hinchingbrooke Hospital: Legionella bacteria found in water supply

posted 3 Aug 2020, 03:07 by Ian Clarenbone

North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed Legionella bacteria has been found in the water supplies at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon. The trust says work is now underway to clear out the system and alternative arrangements are in place to ensure patients are cared for. While that takes place, the hospital will not have any hot water available to patients and staff.

The Chief Operating Officer at Hinchingbrooke Hospital has confirmed Legionella bacteria has been found in the water supplies. Graham Wilde, Chief Operating Officer at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Hinchingbrooke Hospital, said: “Following routine testing of our water supply we have identified levels of the Legionella bacteria within the system. We are working with engineers and our Facilities Management team to undertake a series of actions this morning to clear the system. While that takes place, we will not have any hot water available to our patients and staff. We have alternative arrangements in place for this period, and have provided specific instructions to our wards and clinics to help them continue to care for our patients.”

“We would like to assure patients and staff that we are taking all actions necessary to return our site to usual operation as soon as possible and apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

1 July 2020 Legionella Found in Water Tanks at the Eastbourne Campus of the University of Brighton.

posted 6 Jul 2020, 06:47 by Ian Clarenbone

The outbreak has thwarted plans to re-open Sportswise, the specialist private clinic for the treatment of sports injuries and musculoskeletal problems, in The Welkin Building in Carlisle Road. A spokesperson confirmed that because of the presence of Legionella in the water tanks at the building, the plan had been put on hold.

A spokesperson said, “We hope to get news from the university that the test after treatment will be clear in the week starting Monday July 6 with the hope to re-open from Wednesday July 8. We will start to call patients on our holding list to go through the pre-screening in the coming days. However, if the test comes back as not clear then we will call you again to postpone. Services continue from the Natural Fitness Centre in the interim period.”

A spokesperson for the University of Brighton said, “Many of our buildings currently are closed due to the coronavirus. As part of normal processes for re-opening, we have conducted cleansing and routine tests on water supplies to ensure they are safe prior to reoccupation. During recent tests we have had a small number of positive results which is not unusual when buildings and water supplies have been unused for a period of time. We currently are sterilising the impacted areas which, again, is a routine procedure, to help minimise the risk of a legionella outbreak, prior to allowing reoccupation. The safety of everyone who uses our buildings remains paramount.”

1 July 2020 Legionella in Water Supply at Brynmawr Foundation School

posted 1 Jul 2020, 05:41 by Ian Clarenbone

ONE of five schools in Blaenau Gwent which has remained closed this week due to issues with water supplies, had a positive test result for Legionella contamination, its headteacher has said. Tredegar Comprehensive and Willowtown Primary School, in Ebbw Vale, also did not re-open as planned on Monday, but it is hoped they will be able to this week.

Brynmawr Foundation School, along with Blaen-y-Cwm Primary School in Brynmawr and Ystruth Primary School in Blaina, is staying closed for the next two weeks after Blaenau Gwent council said tests indicated “a localised contamination” within the water supply. A letter sent to parents last week from the headteacher of Brynmawr Foundation School, Gerard McNamara, said: “As part of our health and safety routine procedures our water is tested every month. All previous tests have been negative. However, today we have had a positive test result for localised low levels of Legionella contamination which require a full system chlorination.”

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council said the water supply at the schools cannot be used until it has been chlorinated and new tests show it is satisfactory. Labour councillor, Hedley McCarthy, said he has been contacted by worried parents and grandparents over the issue. He said “I am as concerned as they are, the safeguarding of our children and staff is paramount, to allay health and safety fears an urgent independent inquiry should be set up by Welsh Government to give transparency as to how this could have been allowed to happen.”

Alun Davies, member of the Senedd for Blaenau Gwent, has written to the council, asking it to be “open and transparent on what they knew and when. With five schools affected it feels like a systemic problem with the authority’s management rather than an individual problem with water supply,” he said. “I also want clear confirmation that there are no other problems with any other school and that all other schools passed the relevant tests.”
The NASUWT teaching union has warned that children and staff in schools which were open as hubs may have been put at risk. Mark Morris, national executive member for South East Wales said: “For this to have happened means that the absolute basic risk assessments and requirements to legally and safely disperse water haven’t been followed. That doesn’t even include any of the new or additional risks that may occur based on the COVID-19 guidelines. That some of the schools may have been partially opened as hub schools is a particular concern as staff, and pupils, may have drunk, or washed, in contaminated water. The lack of clarity in many risk assessments, particularly around what water testing has been in place during the partial closure is a concern. These tests should be routine and continuous and no different to the testing required after any prolonged period of closure such as the summer holidays.”

Cllr Steve Thomas, Blaenau Gwent council’s Labour group leader, said the response from the authority was “nothing short of shambolic. They have carried out the testing way too late bearing in mind that most schools have been closed for three months,” he added.

Councillor Joanne Collins, the council’s executive member for education, said: “This is disappointing for the pupils who planned to return to school and their families, but the safety and well-being of all our pupils and school staff is always the top priority. “Our health and safety and environmental health teams are working closely with all the schools affected to resolve the issues as quickly as possible however this is also reliant on some external factors, such as laboratory testing. We have been in touch with parents via the schools and will continue to communicate with them when we have further updates.”
A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “We expect the local authority to follow public health procedures and escalate any issues as appropriate.”

16 June 2020 Warning over Legionnaires’ Disease

posted 17 Jun 2020, 00:50 by Ian Clarenbone

Epsom and Ewell Borough Council (EEBC) said in a statement released on Tuesday 16 June warning that recent warm weather and months of water systems going unused created "ideal conditions" for the bacteria that spread the disease after months of quarantine during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"If a building was closed for several months due to the Covid-19 lockdown, it is likely that the water system has had no throughput. This, combined with the recent warm weather, means that legionella bacteria may have grown in the system and could pose a serious risk to health," the warning published by EEBC read.

NHS England warn that you can catch Legionnaires' disease if you breathe in tiny droplets of water containing bacteria that cause the infection. It's most frequently caught in communal places like hotels, hospitals or offices where the bacteria have got into the water supply.

EEBC advised on how businesses and organizations can best protect their returning workforce:

"For small buildings flushing the system may be enough to ensure safety, but for larger buildings some form of disinfection is needed, and a longer time is required to carry out the treatment before the building is safe. Businesses have a responsibility for managing health and safety risks in the workplace including exposure to the legionella bacteria," the council said.

Former Mayor and Environment and Safe Communities Committee Chair Neil Dallen added: "The warm conditions this spring created the ideal conditions for the growth of legionella bacteria in unused water pipes, taps, tanks and shower heads in closed buildings”.

17 April 2020 Legionella warning issued for vacant buildings amid COVID-19 outbreak

posted 20 Apr 2020, 00:22 by Ian Clarenbone

Building owners and managers must be vigilant over potentially fatal Legionella at buildings left vacant due to coronavirus, urges property and construction consultancy, Ingleton Wood

Ingleton Wood has issued a warning over potentially fatal Legionella at offices and other buildings left vacant due to coronavirus.

With the current lockdown, many buildings will be empty or experiencing minimal occupancy and, as a result, domestic water systems within the building could potentially become a Legionella risk if action, such as regular flushing, is not taken.

Unoccupied buildings run the risk of water stagnating, providing conditions where harmful Legionella bacteria can proliferate.

Ingleton Wood is now urging property owners, managers and tenants across the region to be aware of the risks and take appropriate action.

‘Be vigilant and aware’

Wesley Henderson, building services engineer at Ingleton Wood, said: “The COVID-19 crisis has caused unprecedented building closures. Many have zero or reduced occupancy and now face an increased risk of exposure to Legionella. That’s why we’re encouraging building owners, managers and landlords to be vigilant and aware of their legal obligations.

“One of the greatest risks of potential exposure to Legionella will be when the lockdown ends. It is imperative that the water systems are made safe prior to reoccupation.

“It is not necessarily recommended to drain down mothballed systems as this does not always eliminate the risk. But in all circumstances the flushing of water should be exercised with caution as there is potential for stagnant water to form aerosols containing the bacteria.

“Risk assessments should also identify the risks and control measures required. If in doubt, a specialist water treatment company should be consulted.”

Six ways to tackle Legionella risk in vacant buildings amid COVID-19

1.      Review the Legionella risk assessment and written control scheme, particularly with current occupancy and operations in mind

2.      Identify low use water outlets and set up a flushing regime

3.      Identify if occupants or visitors may be more susceptible to Legionella and control the risk

4.      Ensure flushing of low or zero use outlets on a regular basis and recording of such activities

5.      Ensure routine water temperature testing records are maintained

6.     Ensure that water systems which have been left stagnant are recommissioned as if new (i.e. sterilising, microbiological testing).

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