There is no evidence to suggest the photo of a boy sleeping on a hospital floor was staged

10 December 2019
What was claimed

A woman claimed on Facebook to have inside information suggesting that the photo of a boy sleeping on a hospital floor was staged.

Our verdict

There is no evidence the photo was staged. The hospital has confirmed that the incident happened. The woman has told the media she does not have information about the incident.

After a photo of a boy lying on the floor of Leeds General Infirmary has become one of the most contentious stories of the election campaign, contradictory information about the image has circulated online.

A post on one woman’s Facebook page claimed that she knew a nurse at the hospital, who supposedly said that the boy actually had a trolley bed, and was placed on the floor by his mother for the purposes of the photo. 

Screenshots of the post and reshares of it have been shared on Facebook thousands of times.

Claims from the post are contradicted by a statement from the hospital itself. The woman has since told the Guardian that her account was hacked and that she knows nothing about the situation.

The story about the boy first appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post. The reporter who broke the story, Daniel Sheridan, has said on Twitter that he waited for the hospital to confirm that the incident happened. The original story contains a lengthy statement from the hospital confirming that it did.

Sarah Williment told the publication that her son, Jack, had been taken to hospital on December 3rd with suspected pneumonia. Jack was moved from a bed due to an emergency arrival and put in a room without a bed. Jack, wanting to sleep, had to use the floor. He stayed overnight, but according to Mrs Williment, it took him 13 hours after arrival to be given a bed on a ward.

The article included a statement from Dr Yvette Oade, the Chief Medical Officer of the hospital’s NHS trust, apologising for what happened and confirming key aspects of the story.

That statement says, in part: “Within four hours a decision was made to admit Jack to our Children’s Assessment and Treatment (CAT) Unit for further monitoring overnight. Unfortunately, the unit was also experiencing exceptionally high levels of demand which meant that Jack was required to wait in the clinical treatment room in the Paediatric Emergency Department until a bed became available. Jack was admitted to the CAT Unit later that evening and was discharged home the following morning after a medical review.

“We are extremely sorry that there were only chairs available in the treatment room, and no bed. This falls below our usual high standards, and for this we would like to sincerely apologise to Jack and his family.” 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also issued an apology after visiting the hospital.

While we are not in a position to verify whether the woman’s account was hacked, the fact that there is no additional evidence provided, that she has denied knowledge of the situation to the media, and that the hospital has confirmed key aspects of the incident suggest that this claim is not trustworthy.

Correction 10 December 2019

This story was updated to add a more clear description of the photograph to the headline.

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