Care home prosecuted over risk of pneumonia
A private care home in Merseyside has been ordered to pay £40,000 in fines and costs after failing to manage the risk of elderly residents catching a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.
Mother Redcaps Care Home Ltd was prosecuted by the HSE for failing to comply with an Improvement Notice to assess the risk of legionella bacteria.
The notice, instructing the care home to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, was served in November 2011. The company was then given two extensions to a deadline in order to comply with the notice.
By May 2012, the company had still failed to carry out a risk assessment, despite being offered help and guidance on what was required.
Liverpool Crown Court heard on 23 August that the care home didn’t have a system in place for managing its hot and cold water.
Without proper controls legionella bacteria can build up in water systems where the temperature is between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius, creating the risk that small droplets containing the bacteria could be breathed in when water becomes airborne.
The court heard that up to 50 residents, as well as nursing-home employees, could have been put at risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease if the bacteria had been present.
Following the hearing, HSE inspector Phil Redman said: “While there is no evidence that residents of members of staff were exposed to legionella bacteria, there was a clear and inexcusable failure to properly assess and control the risk.
“We gave Mother Redcaps several opportunities to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment after it received the Improvement Notice, but it failed to satisfy the requirements of the notice.
“This case should act as a warning to firms that they will find themselves in court if they ignore enforcement notices.”
Mother Redcaps Care Home Ltd, of Leyland, Wallasey, was fined £6525 and ordered to pay costs of £33,475 after pleading guilty to a breach of section 33(1)(g) of the HSWA 1974.
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