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Hospital to pay £350,000 for "systematic failings"
8:00am Monday 9th September 2013 in News
A HOSPITAL must pay £350,000 after admitting “systematic” failings to protect its patients from legionnares’ disease and window falls.
Basildon Hospital failed for more than six years to get a grip on legionella bacteria, which ended up taking the life of two patients and infecting six others.
It also failed to ensure restrictors were in working order in patient rooms, which led to an 80-year-old woman falling from a first floor window last year, breaking her ankle and fracturing her spine.
Hospital chief executive Clare Panniker was among those at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday to hear Judge David Turner rule on both cases brought by the Health and Safety Executive.
Judge Turner said he was in a “catch 22” situation when deciding how much to fine the hospital.
He said: “Financial punishment may ironically be contrary to the public interest and the wellbeing of future patients, if substantial funds have to be paid out of the very funds budgeted to address health and safety issues.”
The court had been told how eight patients had contracted Legionnaires’ disease at the hospital. James Compton, 74, died in 2007 and Raymond Cackett, 54, died in 2010 after contracting the bug.
Egbert Van Nuil, Lyn Kilshaw, Roy Leech, Joyce Limbert, Francis Nutt and Verona Hughes also contracted the disease, but survived.
Legionella bacterium can live in all types of water, but becomes a risk to health when the temperature allows the bacteria to grow rapidly because it is not stored cold or hot enough.
Despite risk assessments being carried out at the hospital since 2002, recommendations were not entirely carried out.
The court heard reviews and assessments consistently pointed out water pipes were not insulated, shower heads were dirty, and the newer Jubilee wing had not been built with consideration for Legionnaires’ disease.
Stagnant water and debris also built up in areas with no access to pipes and valves to clean them.
The hospital was fined £100,000 for the legionella scandal and ordered to pay £162,000 costs.
It was also fined £75,000 for the window fall and made ot pay £13,000 costs.
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