Nurse left special care babies alone at hospital to celebs and royalty

A Marylebone private hospital favoured by celebrities and royalty has been slammed after a children’s nurse repeatedly left three premature babies alone to make a cup of tea and go to the toilet.

Roseline Ekwuruke worked at the Portland Hospital for Women and Children – where Victoria Beckham, Claudia Schiffer, Patsy Kensit and Sarah, Duchess of York have all given birth.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing last week heard Ms Ekwuruke left the newborn babies on three occasions for a total of 33 minutes while failing to ensure another nurse could cover her.

The senior staff nurse was looking after the babies in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU).

Ms Ekwuruke admitted the allegations and was found guilty of misconduct, but the NMC panel determined she was still fit to practise and instead criticised the “obvious poor culture at the hospital”.

However, the Portland told the Wood&Vale it strongly refutes the ruling and says it has “world class standards of care” with higher staff levels than similar hospitals.

The hospital claims Ms Ekwuruke failed to make use of two additional members of staff available.

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Hannah Stephenson, representing the NMC, claimed there was a risk of death for the babies and used Ms Ekwuruke’s own words that “anything could have happened”.

There was a policy on the special baby unit for nurses to contact the ‘bleep holder’ to arrange temporary cover if someone needed to leave the room.

But Elaine Akintade, the paediatric ‘bleep holder’, told the panel: “Sometimes, due to the fact that the hospital was so under-staffed, it was standard for nurses to take the risk and to leave the SCBU unattended… because of the staffing levels at the hospital, this happened quite regularly”.

The panel also heard Ms Ekwuruke had previously raised concerns about staffing levels and her inability to take breaks.

A spokesman for Portland Hospital said Ms Ekwuruke was dismissed following the incident.

He said: “The hospital has a hard-earned international reputation for its world class standards of care and it is among the best equipped hospital of its kind in Europe.

“Manning levels are as high as in any similar hospital if not higher. On the night of the incident, and as is quite normal, there were two additional members of staff available to assist in the SCBU if needed and yet at no time did Ms Ekwuruke call on them for assistance.

“The Portland absolutely refutes the contention that this or any other unit was understaffed – quite the opposite.

“Our critical care departments meet or exceed recommended number of qualified staff.”

He added that two subsequent Care Quality Commission inspections have not raised any concerns about staffing levels.