Here’s how: A solution to the prevention of water borne disease outbreaks in hospitals   

Water hygiene in hospitals and healthcare facilities is vital to the recovery and wellbeing of patients, and the workforce. So why are hospitals continuing to face significant outbreaks of waterborne disease, here in the UK? And – importantly – what can be done to mitigate the risk of outbreaks in the first place?


Trend Control’s Bob Blincowe, healthcare sector specialist and member of the new Demand Generation team, shares his expert view on the problem.


Despite the lessons that could – and should – have been learned over the last 30 or so years, new cases of Legionnaire’s disease are still occurring with alarming regularity. In early 2018, for example, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust was fined £300,000 after failing to control the risk to patients from exposure to legionella bacteria in its water systems.


Even more recently, an investigation into the water supply of two Glasgow-based hospitals was confirmed after widespread contamination was found. It was reported that 23 children in the hospital cancer wards had contracted bloodstream infections in 2018. A report, published in February 2019 by Health Protection Scotland, said that contamination was found in taps and drains at both hospitals.


Both examples are of great concern, but they are sadly not unique.


Prevention is better than cure


The bugs that cause Legionnaire’s disease - legionella pneumophila bacteria - are naturally distributed in aquatic environments, achieving optimal growth at temperatures of 25-42°C. Water stagnation and sediment build-up in water systems including fittings, pipework and materials, also accelerate their growth.


Controlling and reducing the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other waterborne pathogens in a healthcare environment is vital. This can be done by introducing, and adhering to, appropriate measures. There is some established guidance for water safety, efficiency and management and, coupled with the available guidance on water management systems, there is also a framework to provide safe and reliable solutions.


Managing large healthcare estates


Water systems in healthcare estates are notoriously complex. One way that a growing number of innovative healthcare estates are achieving better management and infection control is through the use of a Building Energy Management System (BEMS), which monitors and manages up to 84 per cent of a building’s energy consuming devices.


The good news is that the vast majority of health estates already have this type of technology installed, so taking control of an asset that is already in place makes sense. The ability to monitor and control many different inputs/outputs (I/O) into the main plant area of the water system can be achieved by utilising unused capacity already on-site.


Not sure what a BEMS is? CLICK HERE for our short explainer


The future of responsible water management


A properly specified, installed and maintained BEMS will ensure that plant is operating correctly and will provide an alert if attention is required. The key to maximising the effectiveness of a BEMS is information – the more connected devices in a single building, multi-building site or multi-location estate, the more information is gathered and can be acted upon.


Cutting-edge systems are now available that integrate controllers, third-party smart devices and internet protocols into a centralised software platform that offers the ability to highlight and investigate plant status, as well as energy use, and a building’s comfort conditions.


These new system innovations enable a diverse range of useful functions such as centralised data logging, archiving, alarming, trending, master scheduling, system-wide database management, and integration with enterprise software applications.


Take a look at our newest launch, IQ VISION 2.2: CLICK HERE


What next?


Installing or updating your BEMS should not be a ‘fit and forget’ process; regularly reassess any objectives and key performance indicators to make sure you’re maintaining compliance, and use the information the BEMS can deliver in the smartest way possible.


Remember, expert support and advice is always available from the team at Trend Controls. We are building energy management system specialists, and have significant experience supporting the healthcare sector.


If you want to learn how to use your BEMS efficiently and responsibly at your healthcare estate, then contact our team today. Email:​

Published  on  18/04/2019  by  Jenny Morris
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