Checks into Launceston Hospital where legionella bacteria found
Safety inspectors are to scrutinise the occurrence of a potentially lethal bug at a Westcountry cottage hospital as it was confirmed patients remained on site for three days following its discovery.
Launceston Hospital was shut down after two sources of the legionella bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires Disease, were found in the water system on Friday, February 15.
Bosses of the hospital, which is run by a social enterprise Peninsula Community Health (PCH), have stressed that patients or staff were not in danger.
But the Health and Safety Executive confirmed to the Western Morning News that they were looking into the incident.
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A spokesman said that it was not yet a full investigation, but the organisation had equally decided against no action on the discovery of the bacteria which in 1985 killed 28 people during Britain's worst outbreak.
"We are aware of what has happened at Launceston Hospital and we are making initial enquiries to check the facts," he said.
"We are not launching an inquiry at this stage."
The hospital is owned by the primary care trust NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly and will be closed for four weeks while the entire water and heating system is subject to a major refurbishment.
However it has been confirmed that there was a three day gap between positive legionella results being obtained and moving the ten in-patients out of the hospital.
The bug was found in a consultation room in the out-patient department and a hand washing sink in a closed section of an in-patient ward.
A PCH spokeswoman said a "thermal disinfection" was undertaken which reduced but did not eliminate the problem.
"As the thermal disinfection had not been totally satisfactory, the alternative of chemical disinfection is the only other option," said the spokeswoman.
"Due to the associated risks of very high levels of chlorine in the water system during chemical disinfection it was not felt feasible to do this with patients in occupation at Launceston Hospital."
PCH said they have "robust" protocols for managing, main tainting, inspecting and testing water systems which includes rigorous daily and monthly checks.