'Unsafe' Legionella claim as Mary Feilding Guild set to close early
- Credit: Polly Hancock
The final residents at Mary Feilding Guild are set to be moved out next week – despite the owner’s claims of “unsafe” levels of Legionella being disputed by health experts.
Highgate Care said it had been advised by Public Health England that the most recent sample scores of bacteria at the home – “over 100” – were “of concern” and that the safe level for a care home is zero.
But Public Health England told this newspaper no samples above 100 have been reported in recent water sample testing at the care home.
Highgate Care has come under fire for announcing its closure of the home – now renamed Highgate House – when it took over in March. It told 16 residents aged between 85 and 104 they had to find a new home by the of end of May.
The Care Quality Commission said it has now been notified of May 7 as the date of closure.
A spokesperson for Highgate Care said: “We have been in conversation with the CQC, Public Health England, the Health Protection Agency and Haringey public health, safeguarding, reviewing, environmental health and commissioning teams over the past few weeks to put plans in place to safeguard residents and staff.
“The most recent Legionella sample scores are over 100, which we have been advised by Public Health England are of concern. The safe level for a care home is zero.
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“The four remaining residents have found suitable new accommodation and as of today, the team are finalising plans for transfers to their new homes next week.”
A Haringey Council spokesperson said: “We are aware that Legionella has been found in water samples taken in the care home.
“The council are working closely with the care home, Public Health England and other partner agencies to ensure that any remedial actions needed are carried out to keep residents and staff safe within the home.
“There is no evidence of any cases of Legionella infection in the care home at present.”
Cllr Liz Morris (Lib Dem, Highgate) said: "It is extremely concerning to hear that Highgate Care have decided to close Mary Feilding at even shorter notice, and on such spurious grounds.
“The council has been clear that the home’s water is not a significant risk to residents, and is not a legitimate reason to kick the remaining residents out almost four weeks earlier than planned.
“I urge them to think again so that residents are given all the time that they need to make alternative arrangements.”
The care home was sold by Mary Feilding Guild, a charitable trust, to Highgate Care, a private company, on March 4.
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West said: “It is deeply disappointing that the final decisions appears to have been taken to close Mary Fielding Guild.
"The owners have repeatedly had options to find a solution which would have stopped residents being moved in the middle of a pandemic but, very sadly, they have refused to do so.”
Jan Shortt, the general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said: "There are a number of issues tied up in this matter, none so important as the health and well-being of residents for whom the Mary Feilding/Highgate care home has been their only home for some decades.
"To expect these residents (even with support) to be happy about leaving is incredible – more so since they have not left the home during lockdown and restrictions still apply."
Neil Cox, the CQC’s head of inspection for adult social care, said: "CQC have been informed that First Cheltenham Carte Limited, the provider of Highgate House Care Home (previously called Mary Feilding Guild) in Highgate, London is closing their service on May 7.
"CQC remain in regular contact with colleagues at the London Borough of Haringey and other stakeholders who are supporting people currently living there in moving to new services which are appropriate for their needs.
“Our first concern is the welfare of the people who have been living at Highgate House Care Home. We have been assured by the provider they have taken steps to reduce the risk to people using the service and are acting in conjunction with the council to ensure their safety.”