In England and Wales PHE (Public Health England) publish the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease on a monthly basis. Analysing these numbers can be quite illuminating.
This chart shows that 2017 was worse than 2016 in the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease in England and Wales, this increase was 29.9% (448 vs 345)
That is quite some increase, though it does seem that 2016 showed a llower number of cases than in 2015
The number of cases in 2016 was 345 whereas in 2015 this number was 371
2017 is still 20% up on 2015 though so it still a worrying trend.
In 2013/14 the HSE released L8 4th Edition and HSG 274 Parts 1, 2 and 3 so it would be hoped that these increases in numbers shown above are an abberation and not a trend otherwise what are the benefits of the newest ACoP and Guidance?
There are other alternatives though, for example it could be that we are getting better at checking patients for the difference between Pneumonia and Legionnaires’ disease. It is not easy to compare the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease compared to Pneumonia from published material however the cases of Pneumonia in the UK are also increasing.
This appears to represent about a 10% rise over this timescale and though is a different time zone to the cases of Legionnaires’ disease, above, it does not account for the increase in cases of Legionnaires’ disease.
It therefore is a complicated story, some of the rise in Legionnaires’ disease will be due to the increase in cases of Pneumonia, some of it will be down to medical staff checking more people for the difference between Legionnaires’ disease and Pneumonia. It is to be hoped that some of the increase is not down to an underlying non-compliance with L8 and HSG 274, though in my experience companies are more compliant rather than less compliant nowadays.
Recently the sentencing guidelines have recommended higher fines for companies who arrive at court and are subsequently found guilty, so the message may get out there that compliance with L8 and HSG 274 is a serious event.
Certainly the companies I deal with understand the importance and allow me to recommend more robust processes to manage Legionella on site. So you should challenge your customer (if you are a water treater or consultant) or your consultant (if you are an end user) to ratchet up the proceses on site to increase compliance with L8 and HSG 274. After all compliance with these documents should reduce the likelihood of Legionella bacteria on site and hence affect the number of cases in England and Wales.
If you want a stronger challenge then contact Collaton Consultancy via email or phone and see how we can help you.
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NIgel Richardson BSc(Hons) MBA DipCL CISM FRSA FIHEEM MWMSoc