Northampton footballer's family blast NHS after son told his flesh-eating bug was tonsillitis

Luke Abrahams and his mum Julie Needham.
Credit: Family picture
Luke Abrahams and his mother Julie Needham. Credit: Family photograph

The family of an amateur footballer who died have called for an end to over-the-phone GP appointments - after his deadly infection was misdiagnosed as tonsillitis.

Luke Abrahams, 20, died on a hospital operating table a week after first complaining about a sore throat.

He had been given antibiotics but the bacterial infection spread to his whole body and he died at Northampton General Hospital.

Doctors even amputated his leg in a bid to save him from a flesh-eating disease but were unsuccessful.

His parents say their son was let down by a series of NHS failures. In the week he deteriorated they went to hospital, called their GP, called 111, visited pharmacies, and called the ambulance service.

Dad Richard Abrahams and mum Julie Needham have called for the practice of diagnosing over the phone to stop.

They believe his life could have been saved had he been given a face-to-face appointment.

"It's a kind of a catalogue of errors because if they had done their job right in the first place on the Monday, seeing him face-to-face, none of this over the phone...," said Mr Abrahams.

"I'm not saying he'd still be alive. It might have been a really bad bacteria, too. But there could’ve been a reaction where they could have caught it.”

Luke, his brother and dad at a West Ham game Credit: Family photograph

The couple said they never got to say a proper goodbye to their son.

“He walked down the stairs and he walked into the ambulance and he's never come home," said Ms Needham.

A spokesperson for Integrated Care Northamptonshire said: "On behalf of the NHS in Northamptonshire, we wish to express our sincere condolences to the family and our thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.

"All providers are reviewing the care and treatment provided in this case and until such time as their reviews are completed, it would not be appropriate to comment further."

Luke, from East Hunsbury in Northamptonshire, died in January, and his parents described him as a wonderful son.

Luke playing the sport he loved Credit: Richard Abrahams

Ms Needham said he was "very loving, caring, funny, family orientated, overprotective over his family".

She added: "He had time for everyone."

The couple, who were due to marry this year, said their son was due to be best man.

"It's horrific. I can't believe any of this is happening. [It's] a nightmare... Horrible.

"Jake hasn't got his brother. We haven't got our son. Grandparents haven't got their grandchild. His mates haven’t got him. It’s a massive knife in your heart.” 

Friends of Luke, who described him as "happy go lucky" and "fun-loving" set up a web page which has raised more than £12,000 in his memory.

His fellow football players at Hunsbury Hawks in Northampton played a match in his memory, and a minute's silence was also held before the game.

In tribute to Luke, the club said: "It’s been a hard week for us all. The loss of our Luke has shattered the hearts of so many."

Luke's funeral is due to take place on Wednesday afternoon.

He was also a big West Ham fan and his friends and parents have been trying to get the East London club to remember him at one of their home games this season.

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