A HOSPITAL hit by Legionnaires’ disease says patients have just a one-in-a-million chance of now contracting it.

Health watchdogs have deemed the hospital a relatively low risk for patients contracting the disease, although Basildon was the worst for cases of the illness in a survey of 20 large hospitals.

Since 2002, 14 people have contracted the disease with four dying, although in only two cases the bug, which lives in the water system, was directly responsible for the deaths.

Hospital bosses now say they are getting on top of the problem, even though the bug can never be completely eradicated from hot and cold water systems. The positive reports by the health watchdogs come as a new board of directors launches a “zero tolerance” drive against the disease and vows to implement recommendations to further try and solve the problem.

Adam Sewell-Jones, director of finance, said: “The report is quite clear you can never give a guarantee, but it explains the approach, which is zero tolerance. If a problem is identified with the system we bring in steps to fix the problem and get levels back to zero.

“The report recognises the commitment and achievements over the period with £3million invested in legionella specifically. As finance director that makes my heart bleed. It is a very clear priority for the board. If we need to spend the money and get it done, I will find a way to do it.”

Reviews have been carried out by the strategic health authority, primary care trust, health protection agency, health and safety executive, Monitor and the Care Quality Commission, which still has moderate concerns about the hospital’s efforts to stem the problem.

Meetings will now be held monthly to review if the trust is meetings its targets.

Mr Sewell-Jones said the review looked at causes of the disease in the hospital, its use of external guidance to combat it and the risk of catching it there.

He said: “It asked the question is the hospital safe to visit in light of the problem and there is roughly a one in a million chance, which is slightly more than other hospitals, but there is a greater risk from C-Diff or general clinical risks.”