07 November 2023

SMS Environmental Sponsored The Scottish Legionella Focus Group's Legionella Learning

Last week (26 October), over 60 members of the Scottish Legionella Focus Group (SLFG) attended the latest Legionella Learning event in Hampden Park, Glasgow.

The event was kindly sponsored by SMS Environmental Ltd, and included keynotes from Public Health Scotland and Water Regs UK. 

Hazel Henderson was the first to take the stage, discussing the latest surveillance report on Legionnaires’ disease in Scotland (2017-2022).  Published in August 2023, the full report can be accessed by clicking here

She reported that legionella case numbers were fairly stable between 2017 and 2019, before dropping in 2020-2021 due to the pandemic. Our first actionable takeaway came when Hazel mentioned that 2022 saw an increase in cases across Europe (including the UK), and has since led to an unusual spike in 2023 where there have been more cases than would be expected at certain times of the year.  

The cause of these increases gave us all some food for thought… For example: why are we seeing an increase in cases, and more particularly, why are we seeing an increase in cases outside of the summer months?

It’s a pleasure to bring experts together in a room to discuss the trends in water hygiene, and find solutions to some of the challenges that our industry faces. The demand for such events is a clear sign that there’s more work that needs to be done to prevent legionella outbreaks, and for public and private sector companies to get a better understanding. These events, featuring a range of keynotes from leading industry experts, are a hub for an abundance of knowledge-sharing and information gathering.

Jemma Tennant, Chief, Scottish Legionella Focus Group

Paul Millard from the Water Regs UK was next to present.  He highlighted the importance of material testing, and the processes involved - including what can go wrong if we use products that haven’t been tested.  Paul also touched on the challenges that end users encounter when trying to meet net zero guidelines (especially while trying to manage the risk of Legionnaires’ disease).  The key takeaway from Paul's presentation was that getting the right information is paramount,  which validates the importance of having support groups like the SLFG to turn to. As we know, finding the right information seems to be getting increasingly difficult, and the array of conflicting information out there doesn’t help.

Michelle Mulvanny and Ross Young from Eurofins followed with their presentation ‘The Life-cycle of a Legionella Sample’. Guests were interested to see how a Legionella sample is processed, from filtering of the sample to inoculation to the final reporting.   Competency was the key takeaway here - by ensuring the lab you use is UKAS accredited as well as ensuring the person taking the sample is competent - you can be confident that the results are valid. 

Our final presentations on the day were from Michael Crook and John Mee from SMS Environmental.  They had an informal chat around topics such as challenges as suppliers, heat pumps, training and competency, IOT and remote monitoring, modern sampling techniques and why we should be concerned about the rise in Legionella cases in Europe.  

They presented a case study about recent press coverage following the decision to close a splash park which had tested positive for legionella bacteria. This very case study was the inspiration behind SMS Environmental’s recently published White Paper.

Audience contribution led to a lively and informative discussion with real life situations making things more relatable.  The final question “is the goal zero legionella or zero Legionnaires’ disease?” gave the audience a lot to consider as the day drew to a close.  

The SLFG and sister groups the North East Councils Legionella Focus Group (NECLFG) and the North West Councils Legionella Focus Group (NWCLG) were formed as a support group offering Legionella learning and support to anyone in the Public Sector with responsibilities for managing legionella. Since all focus groups launched, they have attracted over 300 members, with 140 of them being SLFG members.

Some testimonials given by those who attended the event can be found below:

Once again Jemma and Billy pull another fantastic group meeting out of thin air ... Our speakers from Public Health Scotland, Water Regs (formerly WRAS) and Eurofins were both interesting and commanding. Once again I came away from the meeting realising that I know less than I thought I knew. As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know. This is the dangerous part. Now I know, I know there’s trouble ahead…

Thanks to all at the SLFG and to our fantastic sponsor of this event, SMS Environmental. We always remember seminars, and this one will be hard to beat.

Compliance & Project Coordinator, Local Authority

As informative as ever!

Service Manager from a well known Scottish University

 I found the session very informative and it has provided us with a few things to consider...

Local Authority Property Compliance Team Leader

The event was the first I've been able to attend and I found it very interesting, thank you!

Local Authority Team Manager Compliance

If you are interested in finding out more about the Scottish Legionella Focus Group and want to be the first to hear about any upcoming events, please follow the account on LinkedIn.

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