Essex hospital action over outbreak

08 Oct 2012

A hospital in Essex that failed to protect its patients from the potentially deadly Leagionnaires' disease is to be prosecuted, it has been revealed.

Following the death of a patient as a result of the lung infection at Basildon University Hospital last year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it would prosecute.

The charge, under the Health and Safety at Work Act, relates to a period of more than six years.

Legionnaires' disease, an infection caused by legionella bacteria, is caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water.

The bacteria is most commonly found in water sources such as lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. But it can also sometimes be found in purpose-built systems such as air conditioning units, cooling towers, and hot and cold water services.

The more complex water systems installed in large buildings mean places like hospitals are more susceptible to having the bacteria present.

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include high fever, muscle pain and a persistent cough.

A spokesman for the HSE said: "I can confirm that HSE is taking legal action against Basildon Hospital for failing to ensure the safety of its patients and visitors between February 2004 and end December 2010."

He added that representatives from the hospital will appear before magistrates in Chelmsford for a first hearing in "due course".

Copyright Press Association 2012

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