Rotherham: inquiry after family says boy, 5, died after hospital turned him away

<span>Photograph: Yui Mok/PA</span>
Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

A hospital trust in South Yorkshire has opened an investigation after the family of a five-year-old said he died after being turned away by doctors because there were no available beds.

Yusuf Ahmed died on Monday after a tonsil infection had spread to his lungs and caused multiple organ failure. The boy had been taken to Rotherham general hospital by his uncle Zaheer Ahmed on 14 November with complaints of a sore throat. He had been prescribed antibiotics the previous day by his GP, but his condition had not improved.

However, Zaheer said he had waited all night for Yusuf to be seen, and his nephew was sent home by a doctor despite saying it was “the worst case of tonsillitis he had ever seen”.

Speaking to Sky News, Zaheer said: “If they would have treated him where we wanted him to be treated he would be here with us now.

“He would have been here playing like he was. We’ve lost a beautiful child … it’s not his fault. We begged and begged and begged for help. We couldn’t get it. We just did not get the help we wanted, or we needed or we should have got.

“They kept saying to us, ‘We’ve got one doctor. What do you want us to do? We’ve got no beds available. What do you want us to do? We’ve got no space for him. What do you want us to do? Complain to the big people, don’t complain to us. Complain to the big ones that only gave us one doctor’.”

Yusuf returned home, but was struggling to breathe and could not swallow. He was later taken to see the specialist paediatric team at nearby Sheffield Children’s hospital.

However the infection had spread to his lungs. Yusuf then had multiple organ failure leading to several cardiac arrests. He died of pneumonia on Monday.

“Even if it saves one child’s life, saves one parent going through what we’re going through, it saves one family to suffer what we’ve suffered. That will be enough for me,” Zaheer said.

Dr Richard Jenkins, the chief executive of the Rotherham NHS foundation trust, said: “I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Yusuf’s family.

“We have commenced a thorough investigation into Yusuf’s care, which will include liaison with Sheffield Children’s NHS foundation trust. We have contacted the family and will continue to do so as part of the investigation.

“I want to assure families that we have an appropriately staffed medical paediatric service who provide support to our medical colleagues working within our urgent emergency care centre when required. We, like other district general hospitals in the South Yorkshire region, do not provide paediatric intensive care beds. The Sheffield Children’s NHS foundation trust is a specialist trust who do provide paediatric intensive care beds.”