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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 January, 2004, 18:46 GMT
Portland Hospital to be investigated
Portland Hospital
Celebrities often use Portland Hospital
The exclusive Portland Hospital is to be investigated after a midwife was struck off after being found guilty of four counts of misconduct.

Grace Bartholomew, 57, has been banned indefinitely from practising as a nurse or midwife after a woman died from a stroke nine days after a giving birth to twin boys in a Caesarean operation.

She was taking care of Harvard law graduate Laura Touche, 31, in the post-natal ward of Portland Hospital, central London, on 6 February, 1999.

The committee at the Nursing and Midwifery Council disciplinary hearing said, after handing down the ban, that the local supervising authority was to be asked to investigate midwifery practice at the hospital.

Ms Bartholomew, from Tottenham, north London, who was found guilty on Wednesday, had admitted three allegations but denied a further two.

Peter Touche
I'm astonished to learn from today that the Portland allocated someone of such qualifications to care for her and the twins post-operatively
Husband Peter Touche
The 57-year-old was found guilty of misconduct in relation to failing to carry out basic post-operative observation, failing to provide an adequate hand-over, failing to maintain adequate records and failing to maintain and improve professional knowledge and competence.

Miss Alison Gulliver, for Ms Bartholomew, told the hearing that her client made it clear to the Portland - which has cared for celebrity mothers including Victoria Beckham - that she was a non-practising midwife who had not done the statutory refresher course.

She had not taken the courses needed to keep her qualification up to date, since qualifying in 1977.

"On that basis, the Portland Hospital were prepared to have her working there as a bank member of staff on nights when they couldn't get fully qualified midwifery staff," she said.

But delivering the ruling, chair of the committee Jonathan Aspridge told her that by accepting responsibility for the care of Mrs Touche she was effectively practising as a midwife and should have accepted the rules governing that profession.

Inquest criticism

He also expressed concern that the hospital had allowed her to work in the way that she did.

Mr Aspridge told her: "You failed to safeguard and promote the interests of Mrs Touche."

An inquest jury in January 2002 found Mrs Touche died from natural causes "contributed to by neglect".

Coroner Dr Susan Hungerford singled out Ms Bartholomew for criticism saying she should have checked Mrs Touche's blood pressure and that she might have been treated earlier if her high blood pressure had been spotted sooner.

The hospital has carried out extensive internal investigations to review all the policies and procedures involved with post-operative care.

Mrs Touche's husband, Peter, is the grandson of the founder of accountancy firm Deloitte and Touche.

After the hearing he said: "I'm astonished to learn from today that the Portland allocated someone of such qualifications to care for her and the twins post-operatively."

Portland midwife admits mistakes
13 Jan 04  |  London

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