Will a prolonged economic recession lead to an increase in outbreaks of legionnaires disease?

Godwin, Matthew (2013) Will a prolonged economic recession lead to an increase in outbreaks of legionnaires disease? [Dissertation]

[thumbnail of Godwin_matthew_09_2013.pdf] PDF - Submitted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.



Legionnaires’ disease has always been surrounded by mystery and panic and continues to pose a threat wherever water systems exist, as highly publicised outbreaks in the summer of 2012 illustrated. A previous investigation by the writer revealed a worrying lack of knowledge by those re-sponsible for the maintenance of water systems regarding the dangers of the disease and a possible indication for more rigorous training. However, the economic situation in the UK with an on-going recession may itself have posed a threat to the control of this disease. A critical review of the literature was structured under four areas:

(1) the meaning of “Legionnaires’ disease” and the consequences of an outbreak
(2) what the financial costs of control were
(3) were there any differences in occurrences of the disease pre and current recession
(4) the effects of cutbacks, if any, to budgets allocated to control-ling the disease.

The literature review revealed that there were warnings of the consequences of cutting back on health and safety compliance because of economic pressures. These came both from sources within the construction industry and the Health & Safety Executive itself. There was even a suggestion that councils and the HSE had cut their environmental health inspectorate budgets with regard to cooling towers, which could potentially have caused a significant in-crease in incidences of Legionnaires’ disease. 150 questionnaires were sent out all over the UK to NHS Trusts, Councils and Ho-tel/Leisure/Spas. The survey results indicated that, although the overwhelming majority of respondents have had to make cuts in their budgets, and in more than one area, they consid-ered their surveillance techniques regarding legionella control to be uncompromised and were defensive regarding any suggestion of such within their own organisation. Although keen to deny any impact of the recession on their own organisation, a minority acknowledged that this was a possibility within other organisations.

Repository Staff Only: item control page