CQC Compliance for GP Practices – Legionella Risk Assessment
This short article considers issues around Care Quality Commission CQC compliance for GP practices and in particular the requirement to conduct a legionella risk assessment to control Legionnaires’ disease in healthcare premises.
Higher risk in healthcare premises
Legionella bacteria exists in the natural world, but it can also proliferate within man-made water systems including those found inside buildings. Underlying patient health issues combined with the complexity of water systems found in healthcare buildings means that this sector is at particular risk of being affected by the spread of legionella bacteria and Legionnaires' disease if the associated risks are not properly managed and controlled.
Legionella risk assessment
UK regulators recognise Legionellosis (Legionnaires' disease) as being a preventable illness. As a result, health and safety law in the UK requires all GP practices to conduct a legionella risk assessment to identify where the risk of legionella lies in their premises. These assessments should make it easier to tell where bacteria may easily develop if not kept in check. Records of these risk assessments, the results, and any steps taken, should be kept for inspection if required by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Who should perform the risk assessment?
There is no requirement in place for a person of a certain standing to perform this type of risk assessment. However, they should be competent to do it, which may well mean undertaking training courses to ensure they know what is required of them. If someone with the right experience and training is not available from within the practice it may be appropriate to appoint an independent expert risk assessment company such as Legionella Control International.
CQC compliance - Identifying the level of risk throughout the surgery
All areas of the GP practice should be risk assessed, so the level of risk in each area can be ascertained. In some instances, the risk may be considered to be low and seen as being appropriately managed. In this scenario, it would be unnecessary to do anything other than complete the risk assessment, and to check it regularly to ensure nothing has changed. However, where more complex water services exist such as air conditioning, or where hot and cold water is supplied, via taps, showers or other facilities, there may be a need to control the levels of legionella present in the system.
This may include conducting various tests of the water at periodic intervals and at different points in the system. It may also include flushing or removing taps and showers that are not regularly used, disinfecting showers, and running taps and other water outlets through to ensure stagnant water is not allowed to sit in the system. In some situations, the risk of legionella may also require dosing the system with suitable chemicals to ensure the bacteria does not get a chance to develop beyond acceptable levels.
Keeping records of what you do
Regardless of the steps taken to manage the risk of legionella, it is important that proper records are kept and retained. These will help prove to the CQC inspectors and HSE that a risk assessment has been completed and that appropriate measures are in place to manage the risks from legionella bacteria. These should also include details of what was done and when, who was responsible for taking the steps reported on, and their competence to do so.
Further information, support and advice
If you have questions about any of the issues raised above or you would like to speak with one of our legionella risk assessment specialists about CQC compliance issues please call us today on 0161 877 0586 or contact us here.