Health watchdog to inspect Bath's Royal United Hospital following Legionella death

The independent health regulator for England is to inspect Bath's Royal United Hospital just weeks after an inquest found that a patient who died from Legionnaires' disease caught it at the hospital.

The Care Quality Commission will begin its inspection of the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust on Tuesday, March 15.

That date marks five weeks to the day that a jury at Avon Coroner's Court concluded that Bath man Terry Brooks died from pneumonia caused by Legionella he caught from the hospital's water supply.

It also follows the temporary closure of Paulton Birth Centre last month after Legionella bacteria were found in the centre's water system. Services at the centre are provided by the RUH.

A spokesman for the CQC said that the inspection of the RUH is part of schedule to inspect all acute NHS trusts by the end of April and was planned before the inquest and the discovery of Legionella at the birth centre.

The spokesman could not confirm whether the CQC would pay special attention to areas of concern highlighted by the inquest, but, he said: "If we have got concerns then we will follow them up."

Mr Brooks died last July while he was an inpatient on a cancer ward at the RUH.

The jury at the inquest into his death found that: "The deceased was fatally infected with Legionella contracted from the William Budd ward due to a malfunctioning water supply and distribution system."

Assistant coroner Peter Harrowing, who oversaw the inquest, said the hospital's investigation into the death contained serious failures and he ordered it to produce a policy for the investigation of similar deaths in future.

Dr Harrowing, who sent his report from the inquest to the CQC, said that the hospital was taking reasonable steps to correct failures in its water system and that he did not need to take action in that regard.

The CQC will inspect eight key services provided by the NHS trust at the RUH itself and at other sites across the region, such as the birth centre in Paulton. The services that will be checked are A&E, medical care, surgery, intensive/critical care, maternity, children's care, end-of-life care, and outpatients.

The trust will be given an overall rating of Outstanding, Good, Requires improvement, or Inadequate as a result of the inspection.

It will be one of the first trusts in England to receive a rating under a new inspection regime introduced by the CQC last year, which included having larger inspection teams led by clinical and other experts including trained members of the public.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: "The inspections are designed to provide people with a clear picture of the quality of the services in their local hospital, exposing poor or mediocre care as well as highlighting the many hospitals providing good and excellent care.

"We know there is too much variation in quality – these new in-depth inspections will allow us to get a much more detailed picture of care in hospitals than ever before."

Sir Mike said that the inspection team would like to hear from members of the public before the inspection about what they think of their local hospitals and services.

He said: "Of course we will be talking to doctors and nurses, hospital managers and patients at the trust. But it is vital that we also hear the views of the people who have received care at the trust, or anyone who wants to share information with us. This will help us plan our inspection, and so help us focus on the things that really matter to people who depend on this service.

"This is your opportunity to tell the team what you think, and make a difference to the NHS services in the local area."

SOURCE: Bath Chronicle Online