Ombudsman report into Joshua Titcombe death finds pain was inflicted by 'inappropriate emails'

 

Health Reporter

“Inappropriate” emails sent by staff at an NHS trust caused offence and distress to a family who had already lost their baby because of avoidable lapses in his care, the health service ombudsman has said.

In a long awaited report on the investigation that followed the death of Joshua Titcombe, Dame Julie Mellor said that “further pain” had been caused to the family both by the emails, and by the Trust’s failure to properly investigate Joshua’s death.

Joshua died in November 2008, nine days after being born at the Furness General Hospital, part of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. An inquest in 2011 said that staff at the hospital failed to spot a common infection, and that he would have stood an 80 per cent chance of survival if antibiotics had been delivered in the hours after his delivery.

The parliamentary and health service ombudsman’s report upheld two complaints about inappropriate emails and one about the adequacy of the Trust’s own investigation into Joshua’s death, which they said failed to properly answer “very legitimate concerns” raised by his father, James Titcombe (named as Mr D in the report).

The family were left deeply hurt on two occasions after seeing internal email exchanges between Trust staff. One followed an email from Mr Titcombe in June 2010 saying he would be stepping back from his inquiries after “becoming extremely distressed and anxious” about the investigations progress.

Informing the Trust’s head of midwifery of the email, the Trust’s customer care manager wrote: ‘Good news to pass on re [Mr D]’, and received the reply: ‘Has [Mr D] moved to Thailand? What is the good news?’

In another email from August 2009, later seen by Mr Titcombe, a discussion of a midwife’s statement to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) concerning the circumstances of Joshua’s death was subject lined: “NMC shit”.

A fourth complaint, concerning alleged collusion between midwives in preparation for the inquest into Joshua’s death, was not upheld.

The report apologised for the previous ombudsman’s decision not to investigate Mr Titcombe’s complaints in 2010.

Dame Julie said that the case was “another sad example” of the need for change in the way the NHS handles complaints.

Mr Titcombe said he welcomed the report’s recommendations on openness and transparency but said his family did not accept its findings on the complaint of collusion.

“Joshua's death has had an unbearable impact on our family, we miss him every day and continue to be haunted by the trauma of his short life and his horrific preventable death,” he said. “The last five years have been made so much worse because of the way the trust and other organisations responded to his loss.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Professional Services Firm - Oxford

£21000 - £24000 per annum + 21 days holidays: Ashdown Group: Technical Support...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor