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Joshua’s Story - Uncovering the Morecambe Bay NHS Scandal

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’ There are so many lessons to be learned from Joshua’s Story and individual chapters from the book could be used for reflective discussions.’

Joshua's story

Joshua’s story

Title: Joshua’s Story - Uncovering the Morecambe Bay NHS Scandal

Author: James Titcombe

Publisher: Anderson Wallace Publishing - (Book publication date: 1st December 2015) 

Reviewer: Eileen Shepherd, clinical editor, Nursing Times

What was it like?

James Tichcombe’s son Joshua died when he was only nine days old in 2008. His death was the direct result of poor care but it took James seven years to establish the reasons why and in the process he exposed major problems in management and regulation at the heart of the NHS. In this book James details his search for the truth and his battle with the University Hospitals of Morecombe bay NHS Foundation Trust, the Care Quality Commission, Health service ombudsman, Strategic Health Authority, health ministers and coroners. The result of this long and painful campaign was the revelations published in the Kirkup Report earlier this year. This catalogued failing at every level of the NHS that lead to the avoidable deaths of 11 babies and one mother at the trust.

This book is an important legacy for the babies who died at Morecombe Bay. It is a testament to the determination of James and other parents who have fought to expose a culture of poor practice and cover up, and ensure that what happened to their families can never happen again.

The book forced me to ask a now familiar question. Why was no one prepared to blow the whistle on the poor standards of care at the hospital maternity unit? It illustrates clearly why we need a supportive patient safety culture that encourages the reporting of errors and concerns.

When Joshua was born, James and his wife Hoa repeatedly expressed concerns about their son’s health. Perhaps the most distressing part of this story is the inescapable fact that if staff had listened, documented and acted on these concerns, their son could be alive today.

What were the highlights?

This must have been an extremely difficult book to write but I am grateful to James for giving me this invaluable insight into what happens when health professional and organisations fail to put patients at the centre of everything they do. It illustrates clearly the devastating effect poor communication and dysfunctional multi professionals teams can have on patient safety.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The book is accessible and compelling to read.

It starts with an excellent introduction by Shaun Lintern, the journalist who helped expose poor care at both Stafford Hospital and Morecombe Bay and is now patient safety correspondent at the Health Service Journal. He provides a clear, concise and compassionate overview of the key issues covered in the book.

It is divided into short chapters and has useful appendices and an index.

Who should read it?

I think everyone working in health care should read this book. It should be on the reading list for all student midwives and nurses and anyone taking on a leadership or management role. There are so many lessons to be learned from Joshua’s Story and individual chapters from the book could be used for reflective discussions.

You can buy a copy of Joshua’s Story on the Patient Stories website  

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