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Poor hospital buildings ‘put children’s water supply at risk’

Inspectors’ findings come after Westminster North MP warned St Mary’s was ‘quite literally falling down’

02 August, 2019 — By Tom Foot

CRUMBLING buildings at St Mary’s Hospital are putting the water supply in children’s wards at risk of serious infection, according to inspectors.

The Care Quality Commission, following a probe in February, said the poor condition of the Paddington hospital was creating problems “within children’s services”.

The new report said the NHS trust “requires imp­rovement” overall, promp­ting its chief executive to admit “this is not a sustainable situation”.

The CQC report said: “The service faced challenges with the condition of the estate, with one of the biggest risks being Legionella and pseudo­monas in the water.”

Pseudomonas is a common bacterium that’s found in soil and water that can cause serious illness in people with chest infections, weakened immune system or long-term lung conditions like cystic fibrosis.

Legionella is a group of bacteria that causes the pneumonia-type illness Legionnaires’ disease.

The report said the neonatal unit reported a “Pseudomonas outbreak” in July 2018, since which troughs, taps and sinks have been upgraded and pipework cleaned.

But managers told inspectors “some water taps still tested positive for Pseudo­monas despite all measures” and “one of the nurseries in the special care unit was closed due to this”.

Earlier this year Westminster North MP Karen Buck demanded urgent action to rebuild the Paddington hospital which she said was “quite literally falling down”.

Two wards shut because of patient safety and maternity services have been relocated because of a faulty lift; while beds have been lost due to flooding.

In April there was a £1.3billion backlog of maintenance works at five north-west London ­hos­pitals, including St Mary’s – by far the highest figure in the country.

The NHS trust was classed as “good” in three main sub-categories incl­uding whether it was “effective, caring and well-led”.

The maternity unit was rated “outstanding”.

Responding to the report, Imperial chief executive Professor Tim Orchard said: “I’m delighted that inspectors have recognised the real progress we have made. I’m also pleased that inspectors recognised the additional challenges, in terms of the age and state of many of our buildings, that our staff are overcoming in order to provide high quality care.

“Our teams have to work extra hard to make sure our poor facilities don’t impact too much on our patients, but this is not a sustainable situation. The CQC report will help us build our case for a major redevelopment of our estate.”

Imperial College Health-care NHS Trust was formed in 2007 as a merger of St Mary’s, Hammersmith hospitals and Imperial College.

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