Care home fined over pneumonia risk

Care home fined over pneumonia risk 25587

A Merseyside care home has been fined after the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that it had failed to properly prevent risks that could have caused fatal injuries to its residents.

Mother Redcaps Care Home was prosecuted by agents at the HSE after they failed to comply with an Improvement Notice that was served on the premises in November 2011.

Inspectors ordered managers to carry out a full risk assessment after it was discovered that not enough was being done to prevent the growth of legionella bacteria, which can cause pneumonia and other illnesses.

The care home was given two extensions that allowed it extra time to comply with the Improvement Notice, but it did not do this and by May 2012 no such measures had been carried out - much to the bemusement of HSE operatives.

It was after this period of leniency that the authority decided to launch a prosecution against Mother Redcaps Care Home, as without proper controls, legionella bacteria can build up in water systems - creating bacteria droplets that infect the air.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that 50 residents and staff could have been put at risk of developing Legionnaires' disease, which affects the nervous system and can result in disability or death, if the situation had not been mitigated.

Mother Redcaps Care Home was fined £6,525 and ordered to pay £33,475 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the trial, HSE inspector Phil Redman said: "While there is no evidence that residents or members of staff were exposed to legionella bacteria, there was a clear and inexcusable failure to properly assess and control the risk.

"Elderly people and those with poor health are particularly susceptible to Legionnaire's disease so the company should have done more to assess and control the risks, making sure lives weren't put in danger."

By Francesca Witney