Former psychiatric nurse draws on experience for new novel

Haywards Heath-based Joe Hughes has drawn heavily on his 30 years’ experience as a psychiatric nurse in writing his latest book, entitled Madhouse.

Joe Hughes
Joe Hughes

The book is self-published as Bothán Productions through Amazon KDP at £15 and is available from Amazon.

Joe, aged 72, explains: “The book is set in a mythical psychiatric hospital – St Anthony’s – in the south of England in the 1990s against the background of its closing in order to fund new care in the community legislation.

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“It starts with a vicious confrontation between two of its main protagonists and moves on to tell of a romantic crush by a nurse, Pamela Corrigan, on a married womanising colleague, Jim Delaney, with dramatic and unimaginable consequences for them both.

“Central to the plot is also Delaney’s hatred for a substance-misusing patient, Jim Rankin, in his care and the lengths Rankin will go to in order to exact revenge upon his tormentor.

“The world of the psychiatric hospital with its institutionalising culture and eccentric characters is described in detail.

“The main characters fiercely interact with each other in their bizarre, psychotic world of bad language, base behaviour and brutalising abuse where an attempt is made on Corrigan’s life.

“As the characters play out their stories, we are also treated to life outside the hospital as Delaney reflects on his boyhood years back in Ireland and later visits Northern Ireland during the troubles to carry out a nurse escort back to England.

“Having set out on a caring mission, he is confronted by the real world of terrorism.

“We accompany him as he attends a chilling post mortem, as violent incidents occur on his admission ward and on his poisoning, pay-back attempts at seeking revenge for an abused childhood.”

Joe promises a gripping read: “Madhouse is a page turning thriller which is not for the faint hearted but will appeal to those who like a gritty, lifelike story with true to life characters.”

Joe’s next book will be a collection of poetry – Journeys with Aengus.

“I am also the author of My Asylum a history and personal memoir of St Francis Psychiatric Hospital (1859-1995) where I worked for 30 years as a nurse until I retired having also held the post of senior clinical charge nurse.

“I also fronted the trade union COHSE/Unison as its branch secretary for many years and represented NHS workers locally and at district and regional level.

“I am the producer of a DVD on the history of the hospital entitled Where There Is Despair – Let Me Sow Hope! which also features a soundtrack by my daughter Ciara.

“I have also published a free, beautifully produced, fold-out self-guided walk of the former hospital which has now been beautifully and tastefully redeveloped as Southdowns Park.

“The guide is available from local libraries or from me on receipt of your email and land address ([email protected]).

“Madhouse and my other publications are all available on”