Hospital Fined for Exposing Patients to Contaminated Water

It was announced this week that Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been ordered to pay £350,000 in fines and costs, for serious patient safety failings.

The Health and Safety Executive has reported that at least 7 patients at the hospital were infected with legionella, a bacterium which originated from the hospital’s water system, causing Legionnaire’s Disease. 2 patients actually died at the hospital as a result of contracting the disease.

Legionnaire’s Disease is a serious lung infection, which is usually caught by inhaling small droplets of contaminated water. Those infected with the disease often suffer from high fever, muscle pain and chills. Once further developed, it can cause a persistent cough and chest pain. In very serious cases, Legionnaire’s Disease can lead to life-threatening problems.

The hospital is reported to have been battling Legionnaire’s Disease for up to 15 years, which raises the question of how many other people could have been affected.

A hospital is under a duty of care towards its patients to provide a safe and suitable environment for them to receive treatment. The exposure of patients to contaminated water was a serious failing by the hospital which placed already vulnerable individuals at serious risk, in clear breach of the hospital’s duties.

In order to show that there is medical negligence, an individual would need to demonstrate that not only were they subjected to contaminated water whilst being treated at the hospital, but also that this exposure to contaminated water caused them to contract Legionnaire’s Disease.

Those who feel like they have been subjected to poor treatment whilst in hospital, whether as a result of the issues discussed in this article or as a result of the medical care they received should come forward, not only to receive compensation for the loss they suffered, but to ensure that such failings are brought to light in order to improve the standards of the NHS.

If you think you, or someone you know, has been affected by anything in this article or as a result of poor medical treatment generally, please contact Inez Brown, Clinical Negligence Partner on 01905 744823, or email

Inez Brown
Partner, Head of Clinical Negligence
Direct Dial: +44 (0)1905 744823
Mobile: +44 (0)7824 836 416