Saturday, 2 October 2010

Ballad of Homerton Hospital

The A&E department at Homerton Hospital could be on the critical list. According to an admittedly speculative entry on the terrific Blood and Property blog, it’s a likely target for cuts as NHS London is looking “to swing the axe”, and north-east London is covered by by several emergency eepartments - Newham, Whittington and Whipps Cross are all close by. Even Murder Mile stabbings – which aren’t as frequent as you’d think – are dealt with by a team at the Royal London in Whitechapel, more than two miles away.

I have mixed feelings about earmarking Homerton’s A&E for possible closure. Six years ago, they saved my life when I collapsed at home in a coma, brought on by streptococcal meningitis picked up during a weekend in Warsaw. I wasn’t expected to survive the night, but the staff in the intensive care unit worked their magic and had me out of the coma within a fortnight, faculties mostly intactus. They didn’t even mind my friends gathering round my bed to watch Big Brother over my comatose body.

I don’t remember much from my first few morphine-soaked days in a recovery ward, except the hallucinations. At one point, I was convinced that my heart monitor was, in fact, Madonna who had come to see me.

My mum, however, recoils at the memory of the Homerton – not so much my visitors being waterbombed by the tykes in flats nearby, but by how dirty my ward was: the bloody tissues left by my bed by a previous occupant; how she and my sister brought their own disinfectant wipes to give the area a good clean. No one was entirely surprised when I contracted MRSA.

So, as I say, mixed feelings about the Homerton, then. But no reason to close the A&E department. If it hadn't been there six years ago, would I have even made it in to Whipps Cross or the Whitechapel in time?


  1. Considering how much money they've spent on the place in the past few years, and how busy it always is, that seems like a bad decision. I doubt very much the surrounding hospitals have the capacity to make up for it. And as you say, nothing else is as close to a large number of people.

  2. That was my post in Blood & Property. I'd just like to clarify that AFAIK no decision has been made yet. However, I have heard on the regional ED bush telegraph that the Homerton ED is earmarked for closure. You're correct that this is speculation at this stage. However, given that NHS London were foiled in their attempts to reduce the number of EDs in this sector of London by closing the Whitt, I think we have to be wary of them turning their attentions elsewhere at some point in the next 2-3 years.

    @Kopaylopa: you're absolutely right. The neighbouring EDs just don't have the capacity for any extra workload. Closing the Homerton ED would be disastrous.

  3. Newham, Whittington, Whipps Cross, Royal London - none of these are really close by - especially for those not arriving by ambulance.

    The Homerton Children's A&E is brilliant.