FOUR beds in a critical care unit at Basingstoke hospital had to be closed because legionella bacteria was found in the water supply.

The trust which runs the hospital has now added the risk of legionella in the water supply to its ‘risk register’, stating: “If the risk of legionella in the critical care water supply is not mitigated then the capacity of the unit will be affected as there will be a requirement to close beds.”

Papers published for Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s board of directors’ meeting said: “A number of controls are in place to manage the risk including regular flushing and sampling. Legionella counts in Critical Care B have led to the closure of four beds. Beds on C2 have been opened to maintain capacity.”

Critical Care B is the high dependency unit at Basingstoke hospital.

The Trust told the Gazette that no patients contracted Legionnaires' disease because of the incident.

Legionella bacteria is commonly found in water and multiplies where temperatures are between 20-45 degrees Celsius and nutrients are available.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “During a short period of planned work to improve some of our isolation facilities, there was a minor delay in returning a very small number of patients to the new isolation rooms. This was due to a requirement to receive water results prior to the area returning to patient use.

"No patients were adversely effected or moved at any time as a result of this requirement, with their scheduled return to the new rooms following this improvement work paused only momentarily.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal type of pneumonia and is contracted by inhaling airborne water droplets containing legionella bacteria. It is usually caught in places like hotels, hospitals, or offices where the bacteria have got into the water supply.

Symptoms include a cough, breathing difficulties, chest pain, a high temperature and flu-like symptoms.