Christmas Day diner dies after food poisoning bug found

The BBC's Robin Punt in east London says the pub is re-open for business

A woman has died and 30 people have fallen ill following a Christmas Day lunch at an east London pub.

Della Callagher died two days after eating at the Railway Hotel in Hornchurch.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) began an inquiry after the Clostridium perfringens bacterium was found in samples from the affected diners.

Mrs Callagher's husband John said he took her to hospital on Boxing Day but is angry doctors told her to go home.

"We went to hospital and she had an injection then they told her to go home and lay down," he told BBC London.

Start Quote

If she was rolling around on the floor they would have admitted her”

End Quote John Callagher

"There was no blood test."

He said she got worse the next day and was taken to hospital where she died.

"If she was rolling around on the floor they would have admitted her - but because she was dignified she wasn't," he said.

The couple, who live in Hornchurch, have a 14-year-old daughter and Mrs Callagher's funeral takes place on Saturday.

Appropriate treatment

Dr Mike Gill, medical director for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, said the patient was given appropriate treatment and advice.

Clostridium perfringens bacteria It is rare for a person to die as a result of food poisoning, the Health Protection Agency said

"The trust followed accepted medical practice," he said. "We will be fully reviewing the case.

"We have written to the family offering our condolences at this very difficult time and inviting them to meet with medical staff who can answer any queries or concerns they may have."

The Clostridium perfringens bacterium is a common cause of food poisoning and affects mostly red meat or poultry.

The HPA said it was rare for a person to die as a result of food poisoning.

Isolated incident

Dr Deborah Turbitt, from the HPA, said: "Our thoughts are with the family at this sad time.

"We have been working with environmental health officers at Havering Council to identify the cause of illness and any links to food eaten at the venue.

A spokeswoman for The Railway Hotel, which remains open, offered condolences to the family.

She added: "We are fully co-operating with the environmental health and Health Protection Agency teams while they conduct a thorough investigation.

"However until this investigation is complete we can't speculate about the possible cause or source."

A Havering Council spokesman said: "Our initial findings indicate that this seems to be a serious but isolated incident.

"Our officers conducted a second site visit yesterday to gather further evidence and statements from employees."

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