Norfolk hospital admits to 'failings' in care of 11-year-old autistic boy who died of sepsis

Mattheus Vieira's family say there were many missed opportunities to save their son, and find it unbelievable that he was not screened for sepsis despite having all the signs. ITV News North of England Correspondent Rachel Townsend reports

A hospital trust has admitted that a young autistic boy should still be alive had they delivered the appropriate level of care.

In an exclusive interview with ITV News, the day before the inquest into his death, Mattheus Vieira's heartbroken parents described him as "special", adding: "And special in a good way, not just special needs."

"People may think because he was autistic he was difficult, but it's not the case, he was very easy.

"He was the boss of the house, we just miss his presence."

Mattheus, aged 11, was taken to King's Lynn Hospital, in Norfolk, with a kidney infection. He struggled to cope with medical staff taking observations, and his notes recorded him as "uncooperative".

Mattheus Vieira's parents described their son as 'special'. Credit: ITV News

His dad, Vitor Vieira, told ITV News: "He doesn't like to be touched, even a plaster he doesn't like.

"And they say 'Oh he does not co-operate'. He was an autistic boy, what do you expect?

"Sometimes I think is my child the only autistic child in the world because have you not seen this before? They should know better."

Mr Vieira believes staff did not understand his son's behaviour. Mattheus was non verbal and so unable to articulate his distress.

Observations were dismissed as "inaccurate" by some medical staff. In fact, they were accurate and indicated that his kidney infection had developed into septic shock.

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He suffered a cardiac arrest and died, aged 11.

In a letter to the family, shown to ITV News, King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust wrote: "It is admitted by the Trust that there were failings in the delivery of the care that was provided to Mattheus following his admission on 11.04.22.

"In particular, it is admitted that there was a delay in diagnosing life-threatening sepsis and that there was a subsequent failure to adequately manage sepsis.

"It is further admitted that, on the balance of probabilities, Mattheus would not have died but for those failings in his care.

"It is accepted it is likely that, with adequate resuscitation, Mattheus would have made a full recovery."

Mattheus Vieira died aged 11. Credit: Supplied

Mr Vieira said: "We're not here for revenge. We don't hate anyone.

"We just don't want it to happen again. We know a lot of autistic boys and girls from school. They are lovely children, they deserve better."

It is now mandatory for all appropriate NHS staff to receive training on learning disabilities and autism.

ITV News asked all NHS hospital trusts in England if the relevant staff had completed the training.

Out of those who responded, 64 (86%) of trusts said they had not.

Reacting to those figures, Mr Vieira said: "I'm not saying they don't care, they do care, but I think the training is not there and they need to do better.

"They need to understand people with disabilities, physical and mental whatever. They need to do better, they need to learn."

On Tuesday, a coroner will rule if neglect played a part in Mattheus's death.

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