• Lisamarie Lamb

Legionnaires’ Disease Is Serious: BUPA Was Fined £3 Million

If you’ve ever had any inkling of a thought that legionella bacteria in your water system is something you can ignore, or that legionnaires’ disease isn’t as bad as all that, the story of what happened to BUPA after the death of an elderly patient in one of its nursing homes should make you sit up and take notice; after all, this could happen to anyone, and keeping tighter controls over your water systems is vital to prevent it.


In March 2015, 86 year old Kenneth Ibbetson moved into a BUPA run care home in Essex called Hutton Village Nursing Home. He was unable to cope at home anymore, and was extremely frail and vulnerable. Three months later, Mr Ibbetson was dead, having contracted legionnaires’ disease at the home.


As with any death in these circumstances, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation to ascertain just how this might have come about. The findings were worrying.



The investigation – which took more than a year to complete – shows that BUPA Care Homes (BNH) had failed to implement the correct and necessary monitoring and control measures regarding their domestic hot and cold water systems. This meant that legionella bacteria was able to grow, unchecked, within those systems. Not only this, but those who were responsible for overseeing the legionella controls had no training.


BNH pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £3million, along with costs of £151,482.


Mr Ibbetson’s family were, quite rightly, shocked by what had happened. They had spent a lot of time carefully selecting the right nursing home for their father, and had no idea that this deadly bacteria could have been lurking in the water systems in the building.


The most tragic part of the story is that Mr Ibbetson’s death should never have happened. Good legionella controls undertaken by an expert company such as Assured Water Hygiene, and overseen by those who have the right level of specific legionella training would have meant that the legionella bacteria within the water systems of Hutton Village Nursing Home would have been detected and measures put in place to remove it.


If you have concerns that the legionella monitoring within your building could be better, please don’t hesitate to contact Assured Water Hygiene. We will be able to offer help and advice as well as practical assistance to ensure your building’s water systems are up to standard and your residents, guests, students, or work colleagues are kept safe.

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