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Hospital admits breach of H & S law in Legionella death

The Royal United Hospital has admitted to a breach of health and safety law after a patient died from Legionnaires’ disease.

Terry Brooks, from Bath, died from the water-borne illness in July 2015 while he was an inpatient at the hospital.

An inquest found the 68-year-old contracted the deadly legionella bacteria from the water supply to the William Budd ward where he was a cancer patient.

The Health and Safety Executive later prosecuted the RUH with failing to discharge its general duty towards health and safety to “a person other than an employee”.

The RUH pleaded guilty to the charge in Bath Magistrates’ Court today (Wednesday, December 13).

The hospital will be sentenced by a Crown Court judge next year.

A member of Mr Brooks’s family was in court but did not wish to speak to the media.

Mr Brooks died while he was a patient at the RUH

An HSE spokesperson said: “The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Royal United Hospitals Bath under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

“This follows a HSE investigation into how Royal United Hospitals Bath managed the risks to patients from legionella bacteria in its hot and cold water systems, between 1 July 2009 and 28 August 2015.

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“We acknowledge the defendant’s guilty plea and a further statement will be released on sentence.”

District Judge Taylor, who had the option to sentence the hospital in magistrates’ court, decided it was “appropriate and necessary” for sentencing to take place in a Crown court.

An inquest into the death of Mr Brooks was held at Avon Coroners Court in February 2016

The Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust has a turnover of more than £100 million and could be fined millions of pounds for the breach of health and safety law.

A spokesman for the trust said: “The case is to be heard in due course and we will continue to co-operate fully and openly with the HSE and the court throughout these proceedings.

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“We are unable to comment further whilst this matter is subject to legal proceedings.”

The full charge admitted to by the RUH reads as follows: Between July 1, 2009 and August 28, 2015, “at Bath being an employer, failed to conduct your undertaking in such a way to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons not in your employment who may have been affected thereby, were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.”

Sentencing has provisionally been scheduled for January 17, 2018, in Bristol Crown Court.

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