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Why Legionella Risk Assessment is a Crucial Part of Patient’s Care and Treatment

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), an independent regulator of health and social care in England, has issued an ‘inadequate’ rating to an Ipswich GP practice after it was discovered that it failed to enforce the necessary health and safety assessments and Legionella risk assessment, putting both healthcare professionals and their patients at risk for diseases, particularly Legionnaire’s Disease.

According to the CQC report, the practice has been rated ‘good’ in terms of its responsiveness to patient needs but has failed to make the necessary improvements in terms of safety assessments. The practice currently serves more than 8,000 registered patients.

CQC’s report follows an inspection conducted in November 2016 after the GP practice expressed its desire to improve its services. A survey conducted by the independent regulator revealed that patients of the clinic were more than satisfied with its services.

But despite these stellar ratings from patients, the practice was found to be lacking in the implementation of improvements geared toward the health and safety within the premises.

The management of the GP practice said that they are working hard to deliver the best care to their patients and appropriate measures are now being undertaken to address the issues that were raised.

According to the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 12, healthcare providers must assess and evaluate risks to patient’s health and safety during care and/or treatment and the practice must ensure that its staff have the necessary qualifications, experience, and skills to ensure the safety of patients.

The Health and Social Care Act of 2008 also underscores the importance of keeping the safety of premises and equipment. Healthcare facility managers are also tasked with the prevention and control of the spread of infections such as Legionnaires’ disease.

Should a healthcare institution fail to meet the requirements set forth by the regulation, the CQC can prosecute without warning if a person is subjected to an avoidable harm or if a person is exposed to a significant amount of risk of harm.

However, CQC explained that although there are inherent risks in providing patients with care and treatment, it will not consider providers unsafe if they can demonstrate that reasonable steps have been undertaken to ensure the health and safety of patients and care providers. With reference to Legionella bacteria, this would include the undertaking of a Legionella Risk Assessment by a suitably qualified person and the maintenance of a dedicated Log Book detailing all tasks carried out to manage and control any risks.  Regular testing of the hot water supply for legionella bacteria is an excellent way of checking that the procedures are indeed working.