Della Callagher Dies And 30 Ill Afrer Eating Christmas Day Lunch In London Pub Railway Hotel, Hornchurch

A woman has died and 30 others have become ill after eating Christmas Day lunch in a London pub.

Mother of one Della Callagher, 46, was sent home from hospital a day before she died following eating a Christmas Day meal at the Railway Hotel in Hornchurch, East London.

Clostridium perfringens bacterium has been found in samples from the diners and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has now begun an inquiry.

Her husband John Callagher told the London Evening Standard his wife was 'fit" before eating at the pub.

"This was an avoidable tragedy. The pub have not apologised personally to me or my family," he said.

Callagher said he has written a formal complaint to the hospital over their handling of his wife's case. Callagher was taken to the Queen's Hospital in Romford and discharged the same day.

The hospital claims that the Della Callagher was given appropriate treatment and advice.

"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."

Dr Deborah Turbitt, director of the HPA's local Health Protection Unit, said in a statement: "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.

"The venue has been cooperating fully with our investigations.

"Clostridium perfringens bacteria are the third most common cause of food poisoning in the UK and this mostly occurs in relation to red meat or poultry. Indications suggest that this outbreak is an isolated event.

"People become unwell on average after about 12 hours of eating food contaminated with Clostridium perfringens, with diarrhoea and abdominal pain being the main symptoms.

"The illness generally lasts no more than a few days although vulnerable groups such as very young children, elderly people, and those with underlying health problems can be more seriously affected. It is rare for a person to die as a direct result of food poisoning."

Dr Mike Gill, medical director for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, told BBC London the hospital had followed "accepted medical practice."

"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."

A spokesperson for the Railway Hotel told the BBC: 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."