Are our hospital patients and employees at risk of poor water hygiene due to managerial complacency?
It’s an opinion we’ve seen reported in the healthcare and estates management press lately, but we think it’s wide of the mark.
The core challenge facing Water Safety Groups, advised by their professional independent Authorising Engineers is managing the infrastructure they have, not the infrastructure they want. Much as they’d probably love to shake the magic money tree and start afresh with everything brand new. Real-life and real budgets are different.
The gold-standard guidance provided by HTM 04-01 Safe Water in Healthcare Premises and the multifaceted oversight provided by the Water Safety Group approach to management means that, while there can never be a guarantee of zero out-of-specification lab results or even outbreaks, the incidence of complacency is surely a never event. Hospitals are rarely unaware of the task facing them, let alone complacent.
Compliance with water hygiene regulations is, after all, a dynamic process, not a series of purchases and events to be ticked off. Replacing old equipment, assuming you have a budget to do so, is only ever part of the process. Other than in a new build on a greenfield site, the new equipment will in any case need to work safely alongside existing infrastructure.
We come back, as always, to the golden rule of using asset registers, schematics and risk assessments and audits as live working manuals. This is the bedrock of keeping the water clean and the patient safe, and being ready to act quickly if something looks like going wrong. So, if you really want to make compliance easier, make sure all of these documents are bang up to date.
5 February 2020