THE showers on a hospital's maternity unit will not be in use for weeks after special equipment was installed to stop legionella from entering its water system.

The filtering equipment had to be installed at Darlington Memorial Hospital after elevated levels of legionella was discovered during routine testing of water samples on the site.

A spokeswoman for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said no infections linked to the bacteria – which can cause Legionnaires' disease – had been identified in either current or recently discharged patients, adding that the situation was being monitored.

But as a result, the trust has had to install filters connected to all showers and cold water taps to maintain the hospital's drinking supply.

It means there is not sufficient water pressure on the maternity unit, which is at the top of the hospital, to allow women to have showers on either the labour or ante-natal ward.

It also means the hospital's water birthing facility is not in use.

The new equipment aimed at restoring shower facilities is scheduled to arrive by September 9.

It is understood the unit has been without showers for a number of weeks.

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said, “As part of routine and regular testing of our water supply, elevated levels of Legionella have been detected in water samples from several areas across the Darlington Memorial Hospital site.

"We are managing this in line with national guidance. No infections linked to legionella have been identified either in current or recently discharged patients and we are continuing to closely monitor and assess the situation.

"We have put in place a series or proportionate mitigating actions to minimise the risk. These include filters connected to all cold water taps - maintaining our drinking water supply, and to showers.

“Our maternity unit is at the top of our hospital tower block resulting in reduced water pressure in the showers although baths across the hospital remain in use.

"Delivery of equipment to improve water pressure is expected within weeks, meanwhile, women are able to shower on alternative wards.

"The birthing pool at Darlington Memorial Hospital is not currently being used. We apologise for this inconvenience and as part of ante-natal arrangements women wishing to use a birthing pool, are being offered the option of going to our Durham hospital – University Hospital of North Durham.”

Darlington MP Peter Gibson said he had been contacted by "one or two" constituents about the issue.

He said: "I am aware that the Memorial Hospital has had a new water cleaning system installed to make sure contaminated water can't reach the hospital."

He added: "The hospital is taking the right precautions."

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