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Friday, 18 January, 2002, 17:45 GMT
Twins tragedy husband criticises care
Peter Touche (second right) with his wife's parents Thomas and Susan Coolidge, and their other daughter, Anne (left)
Laura's family called for tighter regulations
The husband of a woman who died after giving birth to twins at an exclusive private hospital condemned the "catalogue of errors" which led to his wife's death.

Peter Touche called for more regulation of the private health care sector after an inquest jury found his wife had died from natural causes "contributed to by neglect".

Laura Touche, 31, died nine days after giving birth by caesarean section to twin boys at the Portland Hospital in London.

She was not given basic medical checks for two and a half hours after surgery, and suffered a brain haemorrhage and brain damage.

Peter and Laura Touche
The twins were the couple's first children

After the verdict, Mr Touche said: "It was everything we feared would happen in terms of confirming everything we thought went wrong in the worst treatment at the hospital."

Mr Touche, whose great-grandfather set up the chartered accountants that became Deloitte and Touche, said they had chosen to go private because they had believed it would ensure the highest possible standards of medical care.

But he said a "catalogue of errors" surrounding his wife's death had revealed problems in the private sector, just as the Government was beginning to contract out NHS operations to private hospitals.

Mr Touche said: "This all took place in a private hospital at the end of the 20th century.

"I understand that the government is now contracting out NHS operations to the private sector.

"Finally the NHS is opening up and publishing statistics. So should the private sector.

Peter Touche
The two twin boys Charles and Alexander survived

"The irony is that often, as in Laura's case, a patient is transferred from a private hospital to an NHS bed and so the death is registered at the NHS hospital.

"Furthermore, these private blunders cost the NHS money as they have to pick up the pieces.

"The cost of Laura's final days in an NHS intensive care unit will have cost considerably more than the caesarean operation."

He said he had instructed his solicitor to write to the UK Central Council for Nursing and Midwifery to ask that a midwife criticised by the coroner should be struck off.

St Pancras Coroner Dr Susan Hungerford said midwife Grace Bartholomew should have checked Mrs Touche's blood pressure and said she might have been treated earlier if her high blood pressure was spotted sooner.

Dr Hungerford said: "The principal and most catastrophic, and at present inexplicable error, was the failure by Mrs Grace Bartholomew to carry out routine but vital post operative monitoring."

Legal battle

A spokesman for Portland Hospital said Mrs Bartholomew was an agency bank nurse and had not worked at the hospital since the tragedy, adding: "She won't work there again."

Mr Touche had fought for the right to an inquest into his wife's death.

The Coroner for Inner London, Dr Stephen Chan, at an earlier hearing ruled Mrs Touche had died from natural causes and that no inquest was necessary.

That decision was overturned by the High Court in 2000.

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See also:

15 Jan 02 | England
Mother died after 'lack of care'
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