Yusuf Nazir: Boy, 5, who died after being sent home from hospital was 'inhumanely treated' and 'gasping for breath', say witnesses

A five-year-old boy, who died a week after he was sent home from an emergency department, was treated "inhumanely" and was "left gasping for breath", according to witnesses in the hospital waiting room.

The claims over his alleged mistreatment were made to Sky News by two separate and unrelated women who saw Yusuf Nazir cradled in his mother's arms at Rotherham Hospital just eight days before he died.

On Tuesday, Yusuf's family met Health Secretary Victoria Atkins and said she told them she will ask NHS chief Amanda Pritchard to look at the case.

Yusuf's mother Soniya and uncle Zaheer Ahmed spent over an hour with Ms Atkins sharing their concerns about a 2023 report into his death.

After the meeting, Mr Ahmed said: "We're very happy with the way the meeting went, we could see progression coming our way and this is all we wanted, we want to get another report issued and get the truth out."

Yusuf died on 23 November 2022 - eight days after he was seen at Rotherham Hospital and sent home with antibiotics.

A report into Yusuf's NHS case published last year found his care was appropriate and "an admission was not clinically required" but this has been rejected by his family.

Mr Ahmed insists they were told "there are no beds and not enough doctors" and complained that Yusuf should have been admitted and given intravenous antibiotics in Rotherham to save his life.

'Is there anyone who can help?'

Two independent and unrelated witnesses have spoken to Sky News to express their concerns about Yusuf's care.

Both were in the emergency department at the same time as Yusuf and his mother.

One described the situation as "scary" and the other said it was a "truly horrific night".

Jade Cousins sat opposite Yusuf as he lay cradled in his mother's arms.

She said he was "gasping for breath" and she was not listened to when she urged medical staff to intervene.

Ms Cousins said: "I said to the nurse, 'there's a lady and there's a little boy who's really struggling to breathe. He's gasping. Is there anyone that can come and help?' and she just basically said, 'If his mom's concerned, then she needs to bring him to us herself'."

"She was only a small lady herself. So picking up a boy who was practically just floppy would have been too much," Ms Cousins added.

'Inhumane treatment' on 'truly horrific night'

A second witness, who wants to stay anonymous, described Yusuf's "inhumane treatment" on a "truly horrific" night.

She said: "I was in the waiting room before Yusuf arrived and it was clear as soon as he entered that he was very unwell.

"After waiting a few hours it was very clear that his condition was getting worse, and he was gasping for his breath."

She added: "Yusuf's mum spoke to the receptionist to ask for help, to be told that, 'I can hear he is making a snoring noise'.

"He was not snoring, he was gasping for his breath. Even my child who was nine at the time replied, 'That isn't snoring'."

"The events of the night were truly horrific, my child and I spoke about it to family and friends as it had stuck in our mind so much.

"I couldn't believe that a child and family could be treated in such an inhumane manner."

'Report missed evidence'

Mr Ahmed said the NHS report published in October last year missed out on a range of evidence.

"An honest, fair investigation by a completely independent body. That's what we're wanting," he said.

The report set out how Yusuf, who had asthma, was taken to the GP with a sore throat on 15 November.

Later that evening, his parents took him to Rotherham Hospital Urgent and Emergency Care Centre (UECC) where he was seen after a six-hour wait.

Yusuf was discharged with a diagnosis of severe tonsillitis and an extended prescription of antibiotics, the report said.

Two days later, Yusuf was given further antibiotics by his GP for a possible chest infection, but his family became so concerned they called an ambulance and insisted the paramedics take him to Sheffield Children's Hospital rather than Rotherham.

Yusuf was admitted to the intensive care unit on 21 November but developed multi-organ failure and suffered several cardiac arrests which he did not survive.

NHS trust: 'Nothing could have been done differently'

Dr Jo Beahan, medical director at the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We were all deeply saddened by the tragic circumstances surrounding Yusuf's death.

"It is something no parent wants to go through, and our sympathies remain with Yusuf's family.

"Given the concerns raised by Yusuf's family at the time, an independent investigation was commissioned by the South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board.

"The trust fully cooperated with the investigation and accepted the recommendations made within the report, which was published in October 2023.

"The independent investigation found that, sadly, there was nothing that could have been done differently that would have saved Yusuf's life."

Dr Beahan added: "The trust's urgent and emergency care centre, as with emergency departments across the country, is a very busy environment, especially during the winter months.

"November 2022 was a particularly busy period for the urgent and emergency care centre at the trust. Yusuf was monitored during the period he waited to see a doctor.

"The CCTV footage of the period in the waiting room was considered by the investigators in the independent report.

"Yusuf was then seen by a very experienced doctor on the morning of 16 November and was given an increased dose of antibiotics.

"If an admission had been considered necessary at that point, Yusuf would have been admitted to the children's ward."