Family of 4yo who died in Wellington Hospital's emergency department ask why more wasn't done to save him

The family of a four-year-old boy who died in Wellington Hospital's emergency department are asking why more wasn't done to stop his death.

His family said although he was admitted quickly, he wasn't prioritised or assessed properly.

It's yet another case coming out of New Zealand's emergency departments, which are in crisis.

Sebby Chua was dancing with his little brother Sedric in a video taken just two days before the four-year-old boy died.

"He lights up the room, anytime," dad Neil Chua said.

 His Wellington family is now distraught over Sebby's unexpected and traumatising death.

"I really want to know why he wasn't assessed properly and why nothing was done within the first seven hours," mum Abegail Chua said.

After turning up at Kenepuru Hospital in Porirua with Sebby's complaints of neck pain, they have many questions. 

The doctor sent him home after misdiagnosing him and his condition slowly deteriorated over the next two days.

"I changed his clothes and then I realised his arms are swollen from here to here on both sides," Abegail said.

They went to Wellington Hospital's emergency department where he was admitted straight away but the family are questioning the long wait times after seeing many doctors and nurses who were telling Abegail her son was okay.

"He even reassured me, 'you have nothing to worry about', that's what he told me, my friend was there, she heard it - 'you have nothing to worry about'," Abegail said.

But she was worried as blisters had appeared on his skin.

"Looking at my son, he's already swollen, he can't sit properly, he's very uncomfortable," she said.

Abegail is a registered nurse, she was deeply concerned and said it took staff too long to identify how serious Sebby's condition was.

"It was seven hours that we were sitting there, in room 5 and the only thing that was given is pain medication, nothing was given," Abegail said.

After 35 minutes of CPR, her son died that evening. Early indications from the pathologist are that he died from sepsis complications from tonsillitis.

"There's no urgency," Sebby's parents said.

Abegail said it isn't normal for a child to be swollen.

"At the beginning, they didn't do anything aggressive," Neil said.

Health officials say they can't comment because it's before the coroner but said like other districts, they continue to experience pressure on services due to factors such as winter ailments, increased demand for services, and staff illness. 

These challenges are not new and are being seen by other providers around the country.

"Patient safety and wellbeing is our highest priority and we have measures, such as service plans, in place to ensure the best level of care possible," a spokesperson said.

Sedric now sits at the window crying out for his big brother.

"I feel bad for him because us adults, we can cry it out. But he's longing for his brother and he doesn't know how to express it," Neil said.

On Tuesday the family are flying back to the Philippines with Sebby's ashes. Their family there have never met the four-year-old and now they never will.