Midwife hearing hears from baby's grieving father

Mr Titcombe arriving at the hearing Credit: PA

A man whose campaign over the death of his newborn son led to a damning report on maternity services has said he remembers his wife "crying her eyes out" in hospital.

James Titcombe, from Dalton-in-Furness, said they had a "detailed conversation several times" with staff about how the family had felt poorly with headaches and sore throats, and that he and his pregnant wife were "very concerned" about infection risk.

Mr Titcombe's son Joshua died nine days after he was born at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria in 2008 and from that moment Mr Titcombe refused to accept the explanations from health bosses as to what went wrong.

Recalling the day he took his wife Hoa to hospital in October 2008 after her waters broke, he told a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing in London:

Mr Titcombe said he also told staff that his daughter was taken home from nursery due to feeling unwell.

He said they were reassured by staff who said "not to worry", that it was probably a virus and to take paracetamol.

It is alleged that midwife Gretta Dixon failed to refer Mrs Titcombe - referred to as Patient C - to a medical practitioner for an assessment when she was informed that the patient had been unwell on October 26 2008.

Midwife Catherine McCullough faces the same allegation, but on October 25, and it is also alleged that she failed to take a vaginal swab and/or a urine sample for testing of infection.

It is alleged that the pair's fitness to practise is impaired by reason of their misconduct.

The hearing was told that Mrs Titcombe was seen by Ms McCullough on the Saturday and by Ms Dixon on the Sunday.

The baby was born on the Monday morning.

Mr Titcombe pointed out that seven-and-a-half years had passed and he did not recognise the two midwives.

Questioned on whether he was sure he had a conversation on the Saturday about feeling poorly and about infection concerns born out of fears there was protein in Mrs Titcombe's urine, he said he was.

Mr Titcombe told the hearing that there were "obviously certain discrepancies" but that he is "absolutely 100% sure" that detailed conversations took place.

It was put to Mr Titcombe that his wife said she had a "mild headache", but he said that is a "complete lie" and described it as "one of the many fabrications" he and his wife have had to face.

He described the NMC process as "pretty agonising".

Mr Titcombe previously successfully argued for an inquest to take place which in 2011 heard that midwives repeatedly missed chances to spot and treat a serious infection which led to Joshua's death.

The resulting publicity led to other families sharing their experiences of the hospital's maternity unit and their demands for answers ultimately led to the Government ordering the independent Morecambe Bay inquiry.

Last year's report into the unit - run by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust - found that a "lethal mix of problems" at a "seriously dysfunctional" workplace led to the unnecessary deaths of 11 babies and one mother between 2004 and 2013.

Among the "shocking" problems detected were sub-standard clinical competence, extremely poor working relationships between different staff groups and repeated failure to investigate adverse incidents properly and learn lessons.

Mr Titcombe said at the time that he felt "vindicated" by the findings.

He is now the Care Quality Commission's national adviser on patient safety, culture and quality.

The hearing will continue on Wednesday morning at 9.30am.