Midwife suspended for nine months over death of baby Joshua Titcombe

Midwife’s care failings before infant’s death lead to her suspension.
NMC hearings

A midwife has been suspended from practice for nine months over failings while caring for a baby boy who died at nine days old.

Joshua Titcombe, who was born at Furness General Hospital in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, in October 2008, died after developing pneumococcal septicaemia.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council panel imposed a nine-month suspension order on the registration of midwife Holly Parkinson following a five-day hearing. 

Failure to alert doctor

The panel found Ms Parkinson should have informed a paediatrician about Joshua’s low temperature, especially because the baby’s mother had become unwell and had a raised temperature. The panel said the midwife was aware of concerns about Joshua and his mother and had already been told by a doctor to make three-hourly observations of the infant. 

Ms Parkinson admitted failing to document the doctor’s advice. Her failure to alert a doctor to Joshua’s condition meant a significant chance to save his life was lost.


The panel found the midwife did not appear to accept fully responsibility for her actions and the effect they had on Joshua and his family. She appeared detached from the events and appeared to find it difficult to engage in the process, the panel stated. 

Charles Elton, representing Ms Parkinson, said this had been a single error of judgement and that her career was long and unblemished. He said the midwife had shown insight into the results of her actions, the impact on her profession’s reputation, and that she had shown remorse.

Serious lapse

But the panel found the midwife’s actions had amounted to serious departures from the standards of the NMC’s code. It said Ms Parkinson’s fitness to practise was impaired and suspended her NMC registration for nine months.

A charge of failing to document the care given to Joshua in the maternal notes was not proven. 

‘Lethal mix’

The hearing follows an inquiry into University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Furness General. This found that a ‘lethal mix’ of failures led to the unnecessary deaths of 11 babies and one mother between 2004 and 2013.

A NMC hearing into the registration of midwife Lindsey Biggs, who also cared for Joshua, will take place in October. 

Related hearings

Earlier hearings relating to Joshua Titcombe’s death cleared midwives Gretta Dixon and Catherine McCullough of any wrongdoing. Another midwife, Marie Ratcliffe, was struck off late last year as a result of the case.

A hearing relating to a sixth midwife, Joanne Watts, is scheduled for later this year and an NMC investigation into a seventh midwife continues.

A NMC spokesperson said: ‘The investigation into the tragic events has been lengthy and complex, and has involved multiple agencies and individuals. The NMC will continue to work with others to ensure cases like this are concluded as quickly and fairly as possible.’