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Trust accused of 'complacency' over legionella outbreak

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A hospital trust in Liverpool has been forced to pay £48,000 after unsafe levels of legionella bacteria were found in its bathing water supply.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted The Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital Trust following the death of two patients who had legionnaires’ disease.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that between May 2006 and February 2007 the trust had failed to carry out tests on the water supply for legionella.

The bacteria was discovered by the HSE in the hospital’s water supply system for the sinks, baths and showers.

HSE inspector Kevin Jones said: “It is almost beyond comprehension that Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospitals Trust became so complacent about legionella in the water supply system.”

But the HSE said it could not conclude whether the two patients were infected at the hospital or elsewhere. Both of them contracted the disease before their deaths in early 2007.

The trust strongly denies a link between the water supply and the deaths.

A spokeswoman said its own investigation found the patients, one from Warrington, Cheshire, and the other from the Isle of Man, had contracted the bug in their home communities.

Earlier, the trust pleaded guilty to breaching sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and putting employees and the public at risk. It was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,862.

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