Mount Vernon Cancer Centre enhances water safety after patient tests positive for Legionella

PUBLISHED: 09:36 21 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:36 21 September 2020

A patient at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre tested positive for Legionella, prompting enhanced water safety precautions. Picture: Google Street View

A patient at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre tested positive for Legionella, prompting enhanced water safety precautions. Picture: Google Street View

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Water safety measures have been taken at a specialised cancer centre after a patient tested positive for Legionella.

The positive test came from a patient at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Northwood, Middlesex, which is run by the East and North Herts NHS Trust and provides services to people with cancer in our region.

It is not yet known whether the bacteria – which can cause potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease – was picked up by the patient while in the hospital, or elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the NHS trust has implemented ‘enhanced water safety precautions’ at the site, including more regular cleaning of the system and the fitting of additional water filters.

Legionella is generally spread by the breathing-in of tiny droplets of water containing the bacteria, usually from things like air conditioning systems, hot tubs, showers, taps and toilets.

It cannot usually be caught by drinking water containing the bacteria, from other people with the infection, or from ponds, lakes or rivers.

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The situation at Mount Vernon was reported to a public meeting of the NHS trust’s board earlier this month.

Following that meeting, the NHS trust’s chief executive, Nick Carver, said: “Our water is safe to use and there has been no interruption to our water supply.

“Although it’s not been determined that the patient contracted Legionella while in the care of Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, we have implemented a number of additional precautionary measures, including more regular cleaning of the system and fitting additional water filters.”

In his report to the board, Mr Carver said the NHS trust’s authorised engineer had said they had “achieved reasonable assurance”.

He said monthly reviews are undertaken with the NHS trust’s water safety group – comprising infection control, estates, nursing and medical representatives.

It was also reported at the meeting that at least 116 members of the NHS trust’s staff have attended virtual water safety training sessions.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include a bad cough that does not go away, a feeling of not being able to breathe properly, severe chest pain, high temperature and a feeling of having severe flu.


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