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Holby City spoilers: Has Gaskell gone a step too far?

Holby Gaskell
(Image credit: BBC)

How far will the maverick surgeon go to bolster his trial?

Essie Harrison was thrilled when Professor John Gaskell recently agreed to accept Josh Bloom, a young man with a serious spinal condition, as a patient for his pioneering yet risky stem cell trial. As he's prepped for theatre, this week, a hopeful Josh tells nurse Essie (Kaye Wragg) how much the procedure is going to change his life.

But when suspicious neurosurgeon Roxanna MacMillan (Hermione Gulliford) quizzes Gaskell (Paul McGann) about why he's made a sudden U-turn in wanting to operate on Josh, who he'd previously deemed an unsuitable candidate, Gaskell feels forced to tell Josh and his terminally ill mum Julie that he can't go ahead with the surgery after all.

As Essie begs Gaskell to reconsider, he then suggests Josh's procedure could be enhanced using 'embryonic' stem cells. With Josh conceived through IVF, his mum Julie agrees to donate her unused frozen embryos to help her son. Essie's optimistic – but with the use of 'embryonic' stem cells unapproved, unethical and illegal, will she have an attack of conscience? And are Essie, Josh and Julie just the latest pawns in Gaskell's game?

Also, as Donna starts having reservations about her new business venture, Xavier provides a much-need shoulder to lean on. Could these two be more than just good friends?