Woman who died of suspected food poisoning is Della Callagher, from Hornchurch

The husband of the woman who died two days after eating a Christmas Day pub lunch said she was sent home from hospital hours before her death.

Della Callagher, 46, fell ill after eating a four-course festive meal at the Railway Hotel, in Station Lane, Hornchurch.

Health investigators continue to probe the cause of her death, but have confirmed the presence of the common food poisoning bacteria, Clostridium perfringens, in her system.

The mum-of-one, from Hornchurch, was one of 30 others who became unwell after dining at the venue on the same day.

Mrs Callagher’s condition deteriorated and on Boxing Day she was taken to Queen’s Hospital, in Rom Valley Way, Romford.


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Her husband John, 51, is reported to have said she was given an anti-sickness injection.

“She was in a really bad way but the hospital just sent her home,” he said. “I was ill myself but she was in a terrible state.

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“They sent her home and she just lay in my arms, basically she was dying. We called an ambulance and went back to the hospital but she barely had a pulse.”

Mrs Callagher, who has a 14-year-old daughter, died on December 27 in the hospital.

Mr Callagher told the Evening Standard: “This was an avoidable tragedy. The hospital effectively turned my wife away when there could have been more of a chance of saving her life. It was disgusting the way she was dealt with. We were about to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

“Della was so fit and healthy, I can’t believe it. This is devastating.”

But the hospital said it followed “accepted medical practice.”

Hospital chief executive Averil Dongworth said: “The patient was seen and fully assessed by a senior clinician, and given appropriate treatment and advice before returning home.

“The trust followed accepted medical practice. We will be fully reviewing the case. We have written to the family offering our condolences and inviting them to meet with medical staff who can answer any queries or concerns.”

Laboratory testing has confirmed the presence of Clostridium perfringens bacteria in a number of samples submitted by those who became ill.

The bacteria is the third most common cause of food poisoning in the UK and mostly occurs in relation to red meat or poultry.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) and Havering Council’s Environmental Health team continue to investigate the alleged outbreak, and have made a number of announced and unannounced visits to the pub.

Ember Inns, which owns the Railway Hotel, said its food was prepared to the highest hygiene standards.

A spokesman added: “The local authority is investigating an alleged food poisoning outbreak at the Railway. We are fully co-operating. Until the investigation is complete we can’t speculate about a possible cause or source.”

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