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Investment released to fix legionella issues

14 May 2019

Extra funding has been awarded to St George's University Hospitals Trust after it appealed to NHS Improvement to assist with improving its water supply system.

Its appeal followed two cases of legionella, each of which affected one patient and occurred in October 2017 and April 2018 respectively, according to HSJ magazine.

The most likely cause of this was deemed to be bacteria in the hospital's water supply and it told NHS Improvement that "it could not take responsibility for some aspects of patient safety if it did not receive the necessary capital funding", said the report.

It was subsequently awarded £27m in funding for 2019-20, £3.5m of which was allocated for water safety and the trust said water supplies were now safe.

However, HSJ further reported that minutes from the trust's April finance and investment committee meeting said that "the mitigations in place for maintaining water safety were still fragile and were heavily dependent on individuals undertaking checks".

The magazine has previously reported on a leaked letter from NHS England's finance chief to NHS trusts, "telling them to scale back their capital plans for 2019-20".

Last year's announcement on budgets "suggested" the capital budget for the Department of Health and Social Care would increase from £5.9bn to £6.7bn in 2019-20, which seems to contradict the need to reduce projects.

The example of St George's University Hospitals provides further evidence to support the view that all facilities need to invest in achieving compliancy in all areas in order to avoid outcomes that may prove costly to both the health and wellbeing of facilities users and the financial status of owners and operators.

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