Judge sets new date to sentence Brighton hospital trust in legionella case

Posted On 19 May 2015 at 10:22 pm

The trust that runs Brighton and Hove’s biggest hospital will be sentenced next month over its failure to control the legionella bacteria in its water supply.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust was taken to court yesterday (Monday 18 May) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton

The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton

It was due to be sentenced at Lewes Crown Court over its failure to control the legionella bacteria in the water supply at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

The case was brought after the death in 2011 of Joan Rayment, who was being treated for cancer. She contracted legionnaires disease while at the Royal Sussex although it was not the cause of death.

The court was told that trust chiefs were warned about the issue but did not act. The HSE acknowledged that legionella was unlikely to be eradicated but could be managed.

The trust pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing but Judge Shani Barnes, the honorary recorder of Brighton and Hove, adjourned handing down her sentence. She will resume on Thursday 11 June.

Mr Kershaw said in a statement afterwards: “In 2011 unacceptably high levels of legionella bacteria were found in water samples taken from one of the oldest parts of the Royal Sussex County Hospital and failings in our water management systems and processes resulted in inadequate corrective actions being undertaken as quickly as they should have been.

Matthew Kershaw

Matthew Kershaw

“As soon as these failings came to light we took prompt and decisive action to eliminate the bacteria from the affected showers and these showers were taken out of use until we were absolutely sure there was no further risk of infection.

“We also undertook a full and thorough internal investigation and a detailed review of legionella management across the whole trust which resulted in capital works to the value of £1.7 million, an extensive training programme for staff and a detailed programme of improvement to ensure all our systems and processes for the regular sampling and testing of water and the tracking of results were fit for purpose.

“These systems and processes have been tested on multiple occasions and found to be robust and effective.

“Although it was not the cause of her death, it is possible that Mrs Rayment contracted legionnaires’ disease from a shower in our hospital and for that we are extremely sorry and have apologised unreservedly to her next of kin.”

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