Hospital toilets that have been converted into store cupboards pose a legionella risk, the Health Protection Agency has warned.
The HPA’s head of legionella Nick Phin warned the conference that so called “dog legs” - pipes from a decommissioned toilet or sink but still joined to the water system - had been at the centre of legionella outbreaks.
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Many hospitals have converted old toilets into stock cupboards, which are used to store supplies such as bedding for wards. If dog leg pipes leak onto those supplies, any bacteria in the water could spread throughout the hospital.
HPA data shows more than three quarters of hospital legionella outbreaks were traced to water systems.
Professor Phin also warned the lukewarm temperatures of hospital hot water pipes had created an ideal breeding ground for the legionella bacteria.
He said the NHS had made a mistake in lowering the temperature of hot water to avoid scalding.
“You maybe create other, more serious, problems, by doing that,” he told delegates.