Flashback: Staffing shortage at Oldchurch Hospital, a tragic car accident and drinking water fears

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library - Credit: Romford Library

An SOS reminder from Oldchurch Hospital to 250 doctors in Romford, Hornchurch, Upminster and Dagenham asked them to be even more selective about sending patients for X-ray examinations.

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library - Credit: Romford Library

The circular blamed a shortage of consultants, radiographers and laboratory technicians and pointed out that nearly a quarter of a million cases annually passed through the out-patients’ department.

It said: “It would help us if you would distribute cases more evenly so as to utilise the services of hospitals not so hard pressed as we are.”

Other hospitals which could have been affected in the area were Rush Green, Victoria, Harold Wood and Romford Chest Clinic.

For two days, a 19-year-old Hornchurch man lay in hospital not knowing that his fiancée had died after the accident which caused his injuries.

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library - Credit: Romford Library


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It was not until he was allowed home from Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, that he was told of the death of the 18-year-old receptionist.

The man, of Trustons Gardens, Hornchurch, was driving in Upper Rainham Road, Hornchurch, on a Saturday night when his car hit a lamppost.

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Both he and his girlfriend, who lived in Cranham, were taken to Oldchurch Hospital, suffering with head injuries.

He was released from hospital after receiving stitches to cuts in his face and head.

He said: “When the surgeon told me of her death, I just couldn’t believe it.

“I remember driving along Upper Rainham Road and approaching the junction with Elm Park Avenue.

“I don’t know what happened after that because the next thing I remember is waking up in hospital.”

Water bosses moved to calm fears following news that sewage effluent was being used to fill reservoir providing Romford’s drinking water.

As residents voiced alarm at the move, an Essex and Suffolk Water spokesman said not only was the water safe, it was cleaner than normal supplies.

A company spokesman said: “I suppose people don’t like to think of water being recycled again and again, if but the truth is that we are drinking the same water as the dinosaurs drank thousands of years ago.”

Low water levels meant the company was pumping in 25 million litres a day of treated sewage from neighbouring Anglian Water’s Chelmsford sewage treatment works by pipe to Langford, near Maldon, where it then received an ultra violet heat disinfection process.

The effluent from the sewage was then mixed with river water and released into Hanningfield Reservoir, near Chelmsford, where it was kept for several months during which time it received a further natural purification because the water was kept moving.

It was finally treated once again before being pumped into Romford homes.

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