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Legionnaire’s victim caught infection from hospital water system

An inquest into the death of 68-year-old Terry Brooks, from Bath, has heard that he died after contracting Legionnaires’ Disease at the Royal United Hospital, Bath, in July 2015, while being treated for leukaemia.

Mr Brooks tested positive for the infection just days after being admitted to the William Budd ward. The source of the outbreak has been sited as a malfunctioning water supply and distribution system.

UK data from 1980 to 2013 shows that there are around 360 cases of Legionnaires’ disease each year, with 30 people dying. Legionella bacteria are commonly found in water, with Legionnaires’ disease contracted by inhaling small water droplets suspended in the air. Persons most at risk are those with poor immune systems, poor respiratory systems and smokers. 

The hospital had initially disputed that it was the source of the Legionella outbreak. However, tests proved that the bacteria was present on the hospital ward and a number of water outlets.

Helen Blanchard, director of nursing, midwifery and infection prevention and control on behalf of the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, said:

"First, and foremost we would like to reiterate our deepest condolences to Mr Brooks' family…

“… The Coroner also heard evidence of a wide range of improvements since July 2015 and the Health and Safety Executive are satisfied that the Trust has fully complied with its improvement notice. In addition, the installation of electronic temperature monitoring at water outlets across patient areas is being rolled out and plans for a significant refurbishment of the Trust's water system will commence later this month.

"We wish to offer an assurance that we have followed the advice of the expert agencies and continue to take all necessary precautions to ensure our patients and staff are not at risk."

You can find out more about Legionella bacteria via the CIPHE’s Safe Water campaign: http://www.ciphe.org.uk/consumer/safe-water-campaign/hot-tubs/