Top private hospital guilty of neglecting mother who died

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Indy Lifestyle Online

One of Britain's leading private hospitals was severely criticised by a coroner after an inquest found staff were guilty of neglecting a woman who died after giving birth to twins.

Laura Touche suffered a brain haemorrhage and died nine days after a "catastrophic error" at the Portland Hospital in London, one of the most expensive maternity hospitals in the country.

Yesterday's verdict was a victory for her husband, Peter Touche, who won a High Court order for an inquest after the original coroner said a full inquest was not needed because her death had been natural.

But a jury at St Pancras Coroner's Court found yesterday that Mrs Touche, 31, died from natural causes "contributed to by neglect". The coroner, Dr Susan Hungerford, criticised medical and nursing standards, training and discipline at the hospital.

Mrs Touche should have been checked every 15 minutes after giving birth to twin boys, Alexander and Charles, by emergency Caesarean but her blood pressure was not monitored for two and a half hours. When she complained of an agonising headache, her blood pressure was found to be too high and she was transferred to a specialist NHS hospital but died in a coma nine days later.

Mr Touche, 33, who has reached a settlement for more than £1m with the hospital, said his wife's death revealed a "catalogue of errors" in the private health sector and called for it to be more strictly regulated.

A member of the Touche Ross accountancy firm, Mr Touche said he and his wife chose to go private believing they would get the highest standards but found inadequate medical care and record keeping, delays in administering drugs and an attempted cover-up over the death.

Dr David Bogod, a consultant obstetrician at Nottingham City Hospital, who advised Mr Touche, said: "Laura would have received better care in the worst example of a failing NHS trust. At a time when the Secretary of State is recommending the private sector take over management of some NHS trusts it behoves us to ask serious questions about how it manages itself. Patients intending to use the private sector should choose carefully."