A CARE home contractor at the centre of a Legionella scare has been handed health and safety improvement notices by Barnet Council.

“Higher than normal” levels of the potentially deadly bacteria have this month been found at a third care home, Merrivale in Burnt Oak, operated by Catalyst Housing Group.

In February two other homes were found to have a problem in their water tanks after sampling by Barnet Council’s environmental health officers.

However, the council, which contracted the running of the homes to the group in 2002, said recent samples showed decontamination work had been successful.

Under the terms of the improvement notices Catalyst now must provide Barnet Council with up-to-date Legionella risk assessments for all their care homes in the borough.

Councillor Melvin Cohen, who is in charge of civic affairs, said: “We take any breach of health and safety regulations very seriously and the council will continue to sample the water systems at all five care homes run by Catalyst and will continue to oversee their treatment processes.

“Although higher than expected levels of bacteria were discovered at three homes it is important to stress that no link has been established between these sites and any case of Legionnaires’ disease.”

Risk assessments have so far been provided for Apthorpe Lodge and Dell Field Court, where the original outbreaks were discovered, and Meadowside.

An investigation by the Health Protection Agency into all Legionairres’ disease related deaths since last June has found no link to Barnet’s care homes.