Woman in critical condition after council 'failed to fix mould and damp issues'

A woman has been left critically ill after a council failed to get rid of mould and damp which was affecting her health, her husband has told Sky News.

Morgan Sinnott is on a ventilator in intensive care after being rushed to hospital while struggling to breathe on New Year's Day.

Her husband, Lewis Sinnott, believes issues in their one-bedroom flat have contributed to his wife's severe ill health.

The council has said it is "doing everything we can to rectify issues of condensation, damp and mould" at the Waltham Abbey property and highlighted that workers have visited "several times" to fix various problems.

Mrs Sinnott has an extremely rare genetic condition, Wolfram Syndrome, that makes her vulnerable to respiratory illnesses. This is the third time she has had pneumonia.

Just weeks before she was rushed to hospital, her specialist consultant wrote a letter urging the council to find the family a new home.

Mr Sinnott has said the council's actions are "unacceptable".

"They [the council] could have prevented this from happening years ago and they've done nothing," he told Sky News.

"They got warned about this, they've had hospital letters, they've had everything that they've asked for, and they've done nothing about it."

Mr Sinnott believes the recurring mould and damp are being caused by deep, structural issues that need to be addressed.

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Epping Forest District Council told Sky News it is "very sorry" to hear of Mrs Sinnott's illness.

It also admitted that it's unclear why the flat "is suffering so badly in comparison with others in the block" and said the property's condition has "greatly improved" since recently completed works.

Addressing the couple's request to move, a spokesman added that there is a "chronic lack of social housing" in Epping Forest, "where demand far outstrips supply".

It is looking at the family's request for a transfer in light of Mrs Sinnott's hospitalisation and this will be assessed by an independent medical adviser.

"In the meantime, we will continue to monitor and treat the symptoms of damp and mould at no 53 and investigate whether there is anything else we can do to remedy the causes," he said.

Health officials have told Sky News that tackling the country's housing issues will relieve pressure on the NHS.

About 20% of respiratory admissions into hospitals this winter will be a result of people living in poor housing conditions, Dr Andy Knox - a GP and associate medical director for the Lancashire and South Cumbria integrated care board -said.

The government recently proposed new guidelines that would mean social landlords have to address and fix problems within a strict timeframe.

The requirements are part of a consultation under legislation named after Awaab Ishak, a two-year-old who died from a respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to mould in December 2020. Awaab and his family lived in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

Greg Fell, president of the Association of Directors for Public Health, has warned that councils will need to be able to afford repair costs or construction of new homes.

"Laws are great but we need to be able to afford to implement them," he said.