Flooding forces Whipps Cross Hospital to cancel surgeries - with more rain on way

26 July 2021, 11:30 | Updated: 26 July 2021, 16:07

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

All planned surgery and outpatient appointments have been cancelled at Whipps Cross Hospital in east London following the downpours on Sunday, with more weather warnings issued for heavy rain.

The Met Office has issued further weather warnings over rain and thunderstorms in England and Scotland over the next four days.

A yellow warning is in place for parts of Kent and Sussex between 10am and 5pm on Monday while another yellow storm warning has been issued for much of the Midlands and northern England and most of Wales between 9am on Tuesday and 6am on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a yellow thunderstorm warning is in place for most of Scotland between for 12 hours from noon on Tuesday, while yellow rain warnings also follow for all of Wednesday and the early hours of Thursday morning.

It follows storms lashing the south of England over the weekend leaving homes, roads and Tube stations flooded and forcing two London hospitals to ask patients to stay away due to disruptions caused by the weather.

A spokeswoman for Barts Health NHS Trust said: "We are continuing to experience operational issues at Whipps Cross Hospital due to the heavy rainfall yesterday.

"We cancelled all planned surgery and outpatient appointments for today, and are diverting ambulances while we work hard to clean up affected areas of the hospital.

"We are keeping the situation under constant review and will post updates about services as necessary.

"Meanwhile, we cleaned all areas affected by the flooding at Newham Hospital yesterday and its emergency department is now open to people needing emergency care.

"We are working closely with other hospitals across the Barts Health group to maintain patient care and asking the public to check the latest visiting arrangements for each hospital on our website before coming to any site."

Boris Johnson wrote online: "My thoughts are with everyone affected by the flooding in London and the South East. A huge thank you to the emergency services and volunteers helping families and businesses through this difficult time."

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Yesterday’s flooding will have caused major concern and anxiety for many Londoners, and I’d like to thank partners including the London Fire Brigade, the Met Police and local councils who responded to hundreds of calls throughout the afternoon and evening.

“The response continues today and I remain in close contact with TfL, the Fire Brigade, The Met, London Councils and other partners such as Thames Water to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.

“We are seeing increasing incidents of extreme weather events linked to climate change. This is not the first time in recent weeks that London has been hit by major flooding.

"Despite having limited powers in the area, it remains a key priority for myself and London’s council leaders that more is done urgently to tackle flooding and the other impacts of climate change. This includes continuing to urge Thames Water to address localised issues with infrastructure that may exacerbate the impact of flooding.

“I am meeting all the key partners in London, including London Councils, TfL, the London Fire Brigade, water companies and the Environment Agency to ensure all relevant organisations are doing all they possibly can to prevent and reduce the impact of flooding in the capital."

The wettest part of the country on Sunday was St James's Park in London, where 41.6mm of rain fell.

Residents in north-east London used buckets, brooms and wooden boards to create makeshift flood defences for their homes, while water gushing from an Underground station was caught on video.

Restaurant manager Mariya Peeva, who lives in Woodford, said her neighbour's bedroom was flooded, and her son worked with other residents to prevent the rising rainwater from deluging their home.

Ms Peeva, 46, said: "My son went to buy some food from the local shop - by the time he came back the whole street and the pavement were already flooded and the water was coming into our front door."

Londoner Eddie Elliott, 28, said the flooding was the worst he had ever seen it, after he cycled past Queenstown Road station where the road had been "totally shut down".

He said: "Having been born and raised in London, I have never seen anything quite like it.

"It stands out as the worst I've experienced personally ... totally shut down the whole road with buses stood broken down in the water."

Whipps Cross and Newham Hospitals in east London both urged patients to find alternative treatment centres after they were affected by the downpours.

Whipps Cross Hospital said it was "experiencing operational issues" and asked patients to use an alternative A&E "if possible".

Newham Hospital had a similar appeal, writing on its Twitter account: "Our Emergency Department has flooded in some areas. We're still here if you need us but to help us while we fix things please attend a neighbouring hospital if possible. Thank you!"

Standon Calling festival in Hertfordshire was also cancelled due to the floods.

The festival said in a statement: "Unfortunately due to flooding we will no longer be able to proceed with the festival.

"If you can safely leave the site this evening please do so as soon as possible. We are working on getting everyone off site as safely and quickly as possible."

The Met Office had a yellow warning for storms from Norwich to Plymouth in place until midnight on Sunday.

The rain brought an end to the heatwave earlier this week, but temperatures are set to rise in most places again on Monday as the storms clear, with the mercury predicted to reach 26C in London, 25C in Edinburgh, 24C in Cardiff, and 22C in Belfast.

The Met Office has predicted early cloud in some northern and eastern parts which will move up to Scotland, and sunny spells and scattered showers in most places throughout the day on Monday.