A PREGNANT woman suffering from pneumonia and measles went to "hell and back" after being repeatedly turned away from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, it is claimed.

Leah Painell feared she would lose her unborn child as she waited in terrible pain but was sent away three times by staff who told her to take Paracetamol for a "virus".

Eventually, staff at the Woolwich hospital diagnosed the 23-year-old with measles and pneumonia, breaking the news her baby might be stillborn, deaf or blind.

She said her week-long ordeal included being kept waiting in cramped cubicles where she had "sky-high" temperatures, severe stomach pain and soiled sheets which had to be changed by her boyfriend.

The Thamesmead mum-to-be’s mother Rosemarie Smith, 44, of Walvercoat Road, told News Shopper: "I thought I was losing my daughter and my grandson. "I have never ever seen anything like it in my life - I think it is absolutely disgusting.

"If they dealt with her sooner it might not have got that far but the fact she went through hell and back was unbelievable."

Ms Painell, who also lives in Walvercoat Road, said she was first taken to hospital on February 4 and dismissed three times with a severe rash, temperature, lack of appetite and pains.

The 15-weeks pregnant patient was kept for hours in waiting rooms or small cubicles without a bed as staff quibbled over which department was responsible for her.

Her mum said the family was turned "upside down" with worry during the agonising week and claims the hospital refused to give the baby a scan to check his health. She said: "By Saturday night she was very poorly and very scared and we didn’t know what to do so we took her back again.

"By Sunday morning we were pacing the floors - I can’t explain to you in words how ill she was."

A nurse passed the family a number for organisation Patient Action Group (PAG) who paid for a private scan, showing the baby boy was healthy, although there are fears he may be born deaf or blind.

Ms Painell said: "I am feeling better. Just a little bit depressed, a little teary. I am worried about the baby."


A PAG spokeswoman said: "“With every call a member of PAG takes, we never think things can get worse.

"The case of Leah Painell is one of the worst to date, as it is not just the life of Mrs Smith’s daughter Leah but also her unborn child."

She went on to praise whistleblowers at the hospital where she says there are many reports of bed shortages, a lack of oxygen supplies, and early patient discharges at the hospital.

PAG can be contacted at londonlink@hotmail.com

A spokesman for South London Healthcare Trust, which runs Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said; "We are looking into the circumstances around the care of this patient including working with colleagues from a neighbouring NHS organisation which runs the Urgent Care Centre she initially attended. 

"The patient hasn't complained to us or contacted us directly but we are keen to resolve any issues, so we would advise that the patient contacts our Patient Advice and Liasion Service on 020 8836 4592."