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Lincoln Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit to re-open following delays caused by legionella bacteria.

Health officials are hoping to reopen a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) by May, following delays caused by high levels of legionella bacteria.

The Hartsholme Centre on Long Leys Road, Lincoln, had to close in October 2022 because of severe staffing challenges.

Reports indicated that mental health professionals were overwhelmed due to escalating workloads and the complexity of cases, which often involved aggressive patients.

LIncoln's Hartsholme Centre
LIncoln's Hartsholme Centre

Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) had planned to fully reopen the site by March 2024, contingent upon securing enough staff to operate it effectively.

However, this plan was delayed after high levels of legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, were detected in the unit.

Chris Higgins, Director of Operations at LPFT, explained: “It’s been temporarily closed for a while, originally because of staffing pressures across our inpatient services — we made the really difficult decision to close it in October 2022.

Chris Higgins, Director of Operations at LPFT
Chris Higgins, Director of Operations at LPFT

“We’ve been doing an active recruitment campaign and recruited all the staff we needed, but at the point of reopening we identified that there were high levels of legionella in the unit.”

While the exact cause of the bacteria remains unknown, Chris remains hopeful that the unit can fully reopen by May this year.

He continued: “We have a water safety group in the trust, so we are taking advice from them in terms of the right time to open.

“Pending the results for the next couple of weeks – we have another couple of results to come back – if they are clean and clear, then we will be ready to reopen in May.”

A report to Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee noted that the building that the Hartsholme Centre forms part of has had previous issues with water quality due to its age and network of water pipes.

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It read: “The presence of legionella bacteria has been tackled in the building previously and required the temporary closure of the site whilst maintenance and cleansing took place.

“As a consequence, the trust has robust water management processes in place to manage with regular flushing of systems and water testing to closely monitor.”

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