Bottled water coolers will be removed from hospitals across Glasgow and Clyde, UK, following new guidance which suggested that bottled water coolers should not be used in NHS Scotland healthcare premises due to ‘potential infection risks’.
A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) confirmed that it was the first board to implement a national infection control directive due to be released by Health Facilities Scotland to health boards across Scotland later this year.
According to the guidelines, bacteria can grow in the nozzle and the water bottle if dispensers are not routinely used, posing an infection risk to vulnerable patients.
The risk of infection is not linked to the use of bottled water coolers directly however, and only applies if dispensers are used infrequently, which allows water to stagnate.
A spokeswoman for NHSGGC said: “The national guidance due to be issued does not set out that bottled water coolers in themselves pose a risk.
“However, the use of such coolers is uncontrolled across Greater Glasgow and Clyde and it is how they are being used by individuals and, in some instances how infrequently they are being used allowing water to stagnate that are the potential hazards.”
The British Water Cooler Association (BWCA) responded to the move by reiterating that hospitals ‘are issued with guidelines advising suitable locations for the dispensers, as well as additional precautions related to sanitary maintenance.’
Jon Wicks, chairman of the BWCA, stated: “Health Facilities Scotland is free of course to make its own judgements in relation to infection control risk management.
“However, there have been no problems associated with water coolers, which are one of the safest as well as one of the most sustainable means of delivering drinking water.
“Sanitisation of the coolers, as with everything in hospitals, is essential and our members are trained to the highest level in this regard.”
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