Joe Hughes - Writer/Chiropodist

Joe Hughes has worked in the health field for over 40 years. With a background in mental health and general nursing, he eventually retrained and now works as a private chiropodist.


Whilst enjoying an eventful career in acute psychiatry up to the level of Clinical Nurse Manager he also ran a large trade union branch of Unison as branch secretary. With early retirement beckoning he retrained as a chiropodist/podiatrist and now runs a successful part-time, private visiting practice in addition to his writing and speaking activities.


His first DVD 'Where there is despair - let me sow hope - A Photographic History of St Francis Psychiatric Hospital, Haywards Heath (1859 - 1995)' tells the story of the hospital using on-screen rolling text. Joe illustrates the DVD with hundreds of photographs, many of them lovingly taken and edited by himself. 'Asylum Symphony', composed and produced by Joe's daughter Ciara, complements the text and photographs beautifully.


Joe recently published 'My Asylum', a History and Personal Memoir of St Francis Psychiatric Hospital in Haywards Heath, West Sussex. In his latest book, he revisits his thirty-year nursing and demanding trade union careers at the hospital which opened in 1859 and carried on its work for the next 136 years before closing in 1995 to make way for modern advances in the community-based care of mental health sufferers. Full details of both the DVD and the book feature on this site under 'Publications' and can be ordered from


He regularly gives talks on the history of St Francis Hospital and also takes guided walks of the grounds which have been beautifully and tastefully redeveloped as Southdowns Park.


His first novel 'Madhouse' is due to be published shortly.


Joe's first poetry collection 'Journeys with Aengus' is in preparation and will be available on Amazon before long.


Currently available, and free of charge is a new publication entitled 'A Self Guided Tour of St Francis Psychiatric Hospital, Haywards Heath, West Sussex'. This beautifully produced and fully illustrated A4 foldout takes you on a journey around the former hospital pointing out many relevant buildings, gardens and the life of the Victorian hospital back in those early days and up until closure in the latter part of the 20th century. 


With his roots in County Louth, Ireland, Joe now lives in West Sussex with his family but returns regularly to his native Irish soil.