A recent blog posted on Legionella Control. com has revealed news that water coolers have been taken out from Scotland’s Hospitals in order to minimise the risk of water born infections. This opens the discussion of if they should also be banned from England and Wales?
Water coolers have been in question for years in hospitals and offices simply because their isn’t much need for them anymore, not to mention the plastic waste the produce.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, covering a population of over a million in the West of Scotland, was the first health board to adopt the new infection control protocols. The new guidelines, issued centrally from NHS Scotland, stipulate that water coolers using bottled water should not be used in any NHS Scotland centre.
After NHS Scotland announced the ban on coolers, the shadow Heath Minister Miles Briggs MSP (Conservative) demanded answers from ministers in parliament. Briggs demanded to know what was being done to protect staff and patients across Scotland’s hospital network and how the situation had arisen in the first place.
The ban has been put in place due to the risk of bacteria such as Pseudomonas and Legionella growing in the water bottle itself and the dispensing nozzle, especially in coolers which are not used on a regular basis. This risk is elevated in older patients, and those with underlying medical conditions. It is expected that Scotland’s other health boards will follow Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s lead in the weeks to come.
Issues with water supply are not a new problem for Scotland’s NHS. An investigation is underway at the flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow after a number of patients contracted infections which were subsequently linked to the hospital water supply. The investigation has uncovered contamination in many of the hospital’s drains and taps.
This all ways the question of if England and Wales should follow on with Scotlands examples, especially if it reduces cases of Legionaries disease over the course of the next 6 months.
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