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Nurse at centre of Duchess hoax call found dead

A nurse working on reception at the private hospital which treated the Duchess of Cambridge when a hoax call was made by an Australian radio station has been found dead.

Jacintha Saldanha, who had worked at the King Edward VII hospital in London for four years, was pronounced dead at an address near the hospital at 9.25am on Friday morning.

She was working on reception at the hospital, where the Duchess spent three nights being treated for acute morning sickness, when she took the initial call from the radio station 2Day FM, before putting the call through to a nurse on the ward.

The call lasted approximately two minutes.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said in a statement they were deeply saddened by her death.

In a statement King Edward VII’s Hospital described Ms Saldanha as an “excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues”.

It added: “We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital had been supporting her throughout this difficult time.”

John Lofthouse, hospital chief executive said: “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies at this time are with her family and friends. Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much loved and valued colleague.”

Hospital chair Lord Glenarthur added: “This is a tragic event. Jacintha was a first class nurse who cared diligently for hundreds of patients during her time with us. She will be greatly missed.”

Police said the cause of her death was “unexplained” but they were not treating it as suspicious.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Police were called at approximately 9.25am on Friday, 7 December, to a report of a woman found unconscious an address in Weymouth Street.

“London Ambulance Service attended and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Inquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances of the incident. The death is not being treated as suspicious at this stage.”

Readers' comments (73)

  • Deepest sympathy to this nurse family and friends

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  • My thoughts are with her family and friends

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  • what a dreadful tragedy and a waste and devastating loss to her family, friends, patients, colleagues and the nursing profession.

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  • a hoax with very serious consequences which also questions the professionalism and public duty and responsibilities of the media.

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  • This is a call for these infantile idiots to be sacked.

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  • Maybe now we can stop being told nurses aren't compassionate and don't care for their patients, this nurse obviously cared deeply and the hoax call had a great effect on her, so much so it lead to these tragic consequences.

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  • the results of such a stupid and childish hoax are truly shocking. hopefully the perpetrators will be given plenty of opportunity to reflect on their actions.

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  • Why did she commit suicide exactly?

    I think questions need to be asked about the threat or fear of disciplinary procedures against nurses at her place? She must have been terrified of something!

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  • Hear hear. (Anonymous 7-Dec-2012 6:48 pm). I really feel for this poor nurse. She must have felt totally ridiculed by these idiots. I hope the hoaxers feel suitably ashamed of themselves.

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  • tinkerbell

    So terribly sad. RIP Jacintha. My heart goes out to you and your family.

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  • this is such a sad story, will there be a collection to raise money for her family, I would like to donate something for this tragic loss. I hope that the two radio presenters get sacked immediately and that the radio station pay an enormous fine.

    i really hope that neither she nor the nurse who gave out the info were being disciplined.

    there but for the grace of god.

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  • what is so shocking about this is that even before this tragic event the presenters were bragging about it and fail to recognise the wrong in their actions.

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  • I was shocked to hear she comitted suicide as it was a mistake anyone could have made at 5.30 in the morning. I just hope the hospital wasn't planning a meeting with her to discipline her or something. She must have been very frightened to take her own life like that!

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  • Why didn't the Hospital have a Public Relations Officer to deal with the updates on the high profile patient.Why was it left to the Nurses?honestly we do not expect nurses to deal with these updates.The Nurses were exposed.In alot of hospital they assign a PR or a very senior person to deal with such cases.Just thinking outside the box.Very saddened MHSRIP.

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  • This is a tragic story. My deepest sympathies to Jacintha's loved ones. Suicide rarely occurs as a result of an isolated event. I would think that this stupid and irresponsible stunt may have been the last straw, but there should be caution in focusing ALL the blame for this nurse's death entirely at the door of the idiots in the radio station. Vulnerable people can often be very good at disguising their problems and anxieties, particularly if they have jobs in a responsible and caring capacity. It's much more difficult to ask for help, when you are seen to be the one who does the helping.

    From news reports, the perpetrators of the prank are said to be 'absolutely shattered' about the consequences of their actions. I'm sure that their careers in radio are probably over and the impact on their lives will continue for a very long time. I find it hard to feel particularly sorry for them; but I think that it should be recognised that there must have been other contributory factors to Jacintha's death.

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  • "The hospital had been supporting her throughout this difficult time.”
    This is highly unlikely, in my experience this is management speak for saying we are going to have a disciplinary enquiry and you had better have some good answers. Nurses spend their lives caring for other people but we are managed by some of the most uncaring and cold people one could find in anywhere. There is rarely any praise and when a mistake is made, they come down on you like a ton of bricks, utterly ruthless.
    Our Chief Nurse was at it again this week, twittering on about her five "C". She handed the media a stick to beat us and resulted in some of the worst press coverage for some time. This useless woman should spend a week on a ward caring single handed for 18 patients. I bet at the end of it she would be a bit more in touch with reality. Let’s have some compassion in management, I bet that is something we won’t see Jane Cummings campaigning for any day soon.

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  • We all know as nurses that confidentiality is sacrosanct and the consequences of breaking it can be grave. Add this to the fact it involved the Royal family and went viral around the world almost instantaneously and the reason why she did what she did becomes more understandable.
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    "The hospital had been supporting her throughout this difficult time.”
    This is highly unlikely, in my experience this is management speak for saying we are going to have a disciplinary enquiry and you had better have some good answers.
    Apparently the presenters are receiving counselling, hopefully in the nearest job centre

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  • "The hospital had been supporting her throughout this difficult time.”
    This is highly unlikely, in my experience this is management speak for saying we are going to have a disciplinary enquiry and you had better have some good answers.

    speculation on the attitudes of particular individuals in a particular hospital and trying to point a finger of blame is highly destructive and dangerous and helps nobody. the attitudes of such commentators appear worse than those they are attempting to pass judgement on.

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  • we don't know what happened, we don't know what was said to the hoaxers. we should remember that this hospital is used to caring for members of the royal family so we don't know if they have a pr dept who deal with 'personal' calls, real or fake.

    sympathies to this ladies family.

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  • michael stone

    This is an awful story, but I gather the call was made during the night when the usual reception staff don't work, so this unfortunate nurse took the call and passed it to the ward.

    I'm not sure if that call was before the press release that The Duchess was pregant and suffering from acute morning sickness, but I can't see that this call would be the reason for the press release. It also seems unlikely that the Aussies would have been told anything much, beyond 'how well the Duchess was feeling, etc'.

    So I find this really tragic, overall - I have sympathy for Jacintha's family: very sad, indeed.

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