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?