Concerns raised over inaction at Derry nursing home

Issues flagged in February were not dealt with until September when Legionella was discovered and residents relocated

(Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

A member of the Western Trust board has raised concerns that an issue with the water supply at Greenhaw Lodge was flagged in February but left unaddressed for seven months.

The nursing home is privately owned by Larchwood but the situation is being managed along with the Western Trust, which is the registered local authority, and RQIA.

A meeting of the Western Trust board on October 1 heard that a ‘potential risk’ was highlighted in February but it took until September when dangerous bacteria Legionella was identified in tests for RQIA to relocate 39 elderly residents.

An inspection of Greenhaw Lodge Care Centre was undertaken on September 8 and 10.

RQIA identified ‘serious issues’ with the potential to affect the health and wellbeing of 39 elderly patients at the Racecourse Road nursing home.

The health watchdog was also concerned about the fitness of the premises, and the governance and management arrangements at the nursing home.

Following its inspection, the management of Greenhaw Lodge was directed to carry out a number of specialist tests, which confirmed concerns about the quality of the water supply. 

That, together with the significant repairs required to the water system which extends throughout the home, meant that ‘patients were relocated to protect their safety, health and wellbeing while remedial works are carried out’, according to RQIA.

Speaking at a Western Trust board meeting on Thursday, Dr Bob Brown, Executive Director of Nursing and Director of Primary Care & Older People said it was then that microbiology tests of the water were carried out and Legionella was picked up.

Legionnaires' disease is a serious lung infection that is caused by Legionella bacteria - you can catch the disease if you breathe in tiny droplets of water containing bacteria that cause the infection.

John McPeake, Non-Executive Director, asked if the Trust should have carried out interim reviews to assess the situation from February onwards with the knowledge that there was a potential problem with the water.

In response, Dr Brown said: “It is not our direct responsibility to undertake water tests in a facility.

“The work that RQIA would’ve continued to review was ceased on the basis of the first COVID surge so there’s a gap of months, but from the Trust’s perspective, it was not a responsibility for us.”

Mr McPeake said it was concerning that a ‘potential risk could sit for seven months’.

He added: “I know it wasn’t Legionella in February but knowing there were problems potentially with water leakage, hot and cold etc. 

“It just strikes me as a flag, let it be red or otherwise, that came up in February and it was allowed to run.

Questions have been asked in the past, Mr McPeake said, about ‘what we do when things are truly not right’.

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