LEGIONELLA bacteria have been found in the water supply at Hereford County Hospital and Ross Community Hospital.

The Hereford Times has learned that low levels of the bacteria were detected during routine microbiological sampling of water supplies across the trust.

Subsequently, the trust has overhauled elements of its water supply and, in a statement, stresses that such finds are “not unusual” in a hospital environment.

Legionella bacteria lead to Legionnaires’ disease.

In 2003, a Legionnaires outbreak in Hereford – centred on cooling towers at the Bulmers Moorfield plant – was linked to two deaths and 26 people left seriously ill.

The trust says no patient infections can be linked to the legionella finds in its water supply.

But the finds did have the trust holding  “water incident” meetings earlier this year with the Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Trust Development Authority and Public Health England kept informed.

The trust carries out regular routine microbiological sampling of its water supplies.

Results from sampling last year identified low  levels of legionella bacteria in the water supply at Hereford County Hospital and Ross Community Hospital.

Equally low levels of other organisms, known as Pseudomonas, were also identified in the supply at Hereford.

The trust has stressed that these types of bacteria are not unusual in the incoming mains water supply to healthcare premises being “widely present” in the environment.

Subsequent mitigation measures included fitting specialist filters on all taps in affected areas to remove the bacteria from the water before use, placing some water outlets out of use where appropriate, and disinfection and alteration of pipe work where necessary.

New figures indicate the trust’s performance on tackling high profile hospital related infections.

The figures show no MRSA bacteraemias over the past 12 months.

As of April this year, the Trust had been 767 days without an MRSA bacteraemia - the best record in the West Midlands.

MRSA colonisation/Infection cases identified more than two days after admission over 2014-15 were the same as the previous year at 17.

There are no external targets for tackling MSSA bacteraemias, but the trust reports five finds identified from samples taken two days after admission - only one of these was healthcare related with the patient having a pressure ulcer

On Clostridium difficile Infection (CDI), the trust has an externally set limit of 12 cases of CDI this year.

The reportable cases of CDI are those that have been identified from samples taken two or more days after admission, and are positive by two tests.

All cases of CDI are investigated by the trust’s infection prevention team with post infection reviews of all cases undertaken.

This year, 18 CDI cases were identified, four linked to lapses in care that could have contributed.

Three lapses were attributed to antibiotic prescribing not conforming to trust guidelines.

In one other case there was transmission on a ward.

The final figure of 18 cases is comparable to the 17 cases identified in 2013/14.

Eighteen E.coli bacteraemias were identified from samples taken 24 or more hours after admission.

Most of the cases were associated with the underlying disease for which the patient had been admitted.

The trust’s orthopaedic team undertakes continuous surveillance for infections occurring after hip and knee replacement surgery.

In 2014/15, there was one infection following a hip replacement and one following a knee replacement.