POTENTIALLY lethal Legionella bacteria have been discovered in the water supplies for two care homes in Barnet, prompting calls for an inquiry from a trade union.
Staff and residents in Apthorpe Lodge in Nurserymans Road, New Southgate, and Dell Field Court in Etchingham Park Road, Finchley, were sent letters yesterday explaining the situation.
Both facilities are run by Freemantle Trust who were subcontracted by Catalyst Homes, who Barnet Council are due to pay around £7 million following arbitration after a dispute about their care contract.
The elderly are particularly vulnerable to the bacteria, which can cause legionnaires’ disease, and can be contracted by inhaling water vapour.
Common methods of stopping the bacteria from spreading include keeping hot water above 45 degrees Celsius.
Forty pensioners are cared for at Dell Field Court and 50 in Apthorpe Lodge and both were built in 2003.
However, the problems have led to calls from Barnet Unison secretary John Burgess for an inquiry into how the bacteria were allowed to develop.
He said: “These are relatively new facilities, so how does something like this happen. Legionella is a very serious bacteria, who was performing the proper checks?
“Barnet Council needs to run a full inquiry to find out how this happened.”
A statement from Barnet Council said the bacteria were found during routine tests and the water systems have already been treated to “ensure there is no significant danger to residents or staff”.