‘We need answers about how Thomas died - it has destroyed us as a family’

Mike Hull, whose son Thomas died after being discharged from hospital
Mike Hull, whose son Thomas died after being discharged from hospital

The family of a boy who died after being sent home from hospital is demanding a full inquiry into their beloved son’s death.

Thomas Hull passed away just hours after he was discharged from Whiston Hospital on the grounds that he was suffering from a relatively innocuous chest infection.

But his distraught family subsequently discovered Thomas had been struck down with sepsis on the day he died and believe medics failed to follow national guidelines to treat the condition.

And they’ve been left angered by the findings of an internal NHS review which found the nine-year-old’s treatment at the hospital was “entirely appropriate”.

Thomas’s parents Mike and Donna, of Lannark Close, Ravenhead, have now complained to the Health Ombudsman and are calling for a fresh review into their son’s tragic death.

Mr Hull, 41, said: “It’s destroyed us as a family, absolutely destroyed us. Me and my wife are staying strong because we have to, we have to be strong for our daughter.

“But we need to know the answers about how Thomas died. We are not saying that if they had followed the protocols then Thomas would definitely have lived but he may have done and we will now never know.”

Thomas, who suffered from a series of complex health conditions, including cerebral palsy and alpha-thalassemia mental retardation syndrome, was admitted to hospital on December 4 last year suffering from what was believed to be a chest infection. Several hours later - and after being examined by doctors - Thomas was discharged and went home with his mother.

After arriving home, Mrs Hull settled her poorly son down for the night. The following morning she found him dead in his bed. It was later established that Thomas probably died around an hour after he went to bed,

The Lansbury School pupil’s official cause of death was given as a chest infection, pulmonary hypertension and epilepsy. Several weeks later, after requesting Thomas’s medical records because of suspicions they harboured about his treatment, the Hulls discovered their son was also suffering from sepsis at the time of his death.

“We’ve since found out that 15 minutes after they arrived at hospital, Thomas had been diagnosed with suspected sepsis but they did not act on this,” said Mr Hull.

“Our GP told us that he believes that because of the rate of Thomas’s decline, that was what was likely to have killed him.

“His records also show that the hospital didn’t follow national guidelines. The guidelines clearly state that if there is a suspicion of sepsis then IV antibiotics and IV fluids should be administered within one hour and that didn’t happen.”

A spokeswoman for St Helens and Knowsley NHS Teaching Hospitals Trust, which runs Whiston Hospital, said: “The trust offers its sincere condolences to Thomas’s family for their sad loss.

“His death was reported to the coroner who concluded that he died from natural causes. Thomas had severe multiple complex health needs. Following his unexpected death, a thorough investigation was carried out which concluded that Thomas had received timely and appropriate care for his condition at the hospital, in accordance with national sepsis treatment guidelines.

“Prior to his attendance at the Accident and Emergency Department that night, Thomas had been prescribed antibiotics by his GP earlier in the day, but the first dose was not administered until the paramedics were called to his home later that evening.

“After arriving at the hospital, he was closely monitored and treatment continued until his condition had significantly improved and he was stable to be discharged with his parent’s agreement.

“Further antibiotics were prescribed on discharge, to be given to him at home. In view of his condition at that time, there was no expectation at all that Thomas would sadly pass away.”

A multi-disciplinary panel, which examines all child deaths in the borough, concluded that Thomas died from natural causes.

A spokeswoman for the Health Ombudsman said they were unable to comment on ongoing investigations.