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Nursing bodies condemn prank call


Heathcare organisations have expressed concern at the hoax call that duped nurses into helping reveal details about the Duchess of Cambridge’s condition.

A spokesman for the Royal College of Nursing said it did “not condone” the trick played by 2day FM presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian to extract information from the staff treating Kate at King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London.

One of the nurses who was duped, Jacintha Saldanha, was found dead after apparently taking her own life.

RCN chief executive Dr Peter Carter said in a statement: “This is tragic news, and the thoughts of all at the Royal College of Nursing go to the family of Jacintha Saldanha.

“It is deeply saddening that a simple human error due to a cruel hoax could lead to the death of a dedicated and caring member of the nursing profession.”

The New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association also released a statement.

It said: “The New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSW NMA) expresses its sincere condolences to the family, friends and work colleagues of British nurse Jacintha Saldanha.

“The NSW NMA had written to Mr Jeremy Simpson, general manager of 2Day FM, prior to this tragic incident occurring.

“We urge all nurses and midwives who are under pressure or feeling stress to seek appropriate assistance and to not feel afraid to reach out for help.”

The letter from NSW NMA general secretary Brett Holmes expressing his concerns about the prank call was sent to the Australian radio station before he was aware of Ms Saldanha’s death.

In the letter, he said: “While I appreciate that your station may well consider this incident a successful coup in terms of its news and entertainment value… I would like to draw your attention to the very serious professional consequences such a stunt would have had for a nurse or midwife in the Australian context.”

The letter explains that if the call had been to a hospital in Australia, the nurses involved could potentially have had to go through three separate disciplinary processes, including those conducted by their employer and other inquiries conducted by the regulating authority and the Health Care Complaints Commission.

He described these processes as “stressful and deeply traumatic experiences for many nurses and midwives, regardless of the level of wrongdoing”.

The letter adds: “In the future I urge you to consider the personal toll such a prank could exact from a profession care-giver.”

He said he hoped the station “has undertaken to never again attempt to jeopardise their professional standing by perpetrating such a deception against another hardworking nurse or midwife”.


Readers' comments (25)

  • this is so sad. I see that the hospital are setting up a memorial fund - not through the british papers I hope who hate nurses and I do wonder what the headlines would have been if this tragedy had not happened.

    ..maybe there would have been a 'poll' asking the public if the nurses involved should be sacked - nothing would surprise me any more with the media.

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  • A newspaper or broadcaster has done this before, its a ploy they use which is why confidentiality is so important. On the occasion that i recall the outcome was not tragic but the confidentiality processes increased. It is really sad about Jacintha, my thoughts go out to her family. It is a tragedy that should never has happened and i hope something suitably disciplinary happened to the 2day FM presenters occurred. How selfish, and irresponsible has 2day FM been?

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  • surely imposture, especially when it concerns the Head of State, is a criminal act?

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  • Where are the responsibilities in this of :

    1. The Hospital Management to support a valued member of staff (apparently living alone in nurse accommodation, away from family)

    2 The police in protecting the Royal Family (and hospital staff) from such hoax calls ?

    All too easy just to blame the DJs for a stupid prank that went tragically wrong ?

    Are we all too quick to rush to judgement of others these days ?

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  • I can see it may be viewed as a prank that went wrong. Are we all not though, sick to he back teeth of media types whose job it is to be immature and trite. While they are busy droning meaningless platitudes on air, others are working in immensely stressful jobs.
    Even if the tragedy had not occurred they took a busy health worker away from her core responsibilities and put her at risk of a disciplinary for breach of confidentiality.

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  • Florence

    The media has done a thourgh job, through inaccurate sensational reporting, of tarnishing the image of Nurses and the NHS. There is very little fair unbiased reporting on Health Issues in the UK in the world of Newspapers.
    The circumstances surrounding the death of Jacintha, were absolutley tragic. My heart goes out to her family.The poor woman must have been so desperate to take her own life.Needless to say she should not have been on that hospital switchboard.
    I don't believe that William & Kate '' court'' the media in any way.The tradegy of Diana has made William completley protective of his wife.
    However alot of celebritys do this and then when they recieve poor publicity they sue and use their wealth to campaign like Hugh Grant did.

    But what about people like ourselves and Jacintha? We have no experience with the media. She must have been terrified. Maybe this tradgedy could have been avoided if she had recieved appropriate support ?
    While the DJ'S could not have anticipated this outcome. And there must have been a myriad of factors involved. The media as a whole must look again at the lengths they go to , to supposedly entertain the public. I for one am not '' entertained' by such things.
    It was a prank in extremley poor taste.
    Im glad the New South Wales and Australian Nurses Association has spoken up.
    Which leads me to the question...
    Why have we heard nothing from our NMC ?
    And what about Jane Cummings ?
    Compassion ???

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  • Florence

    Sorry the '' New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association''.
    I just get really frustrated when anything involving the media is concerned!!!
    Our local newspaper is one of the worst offenders in the UK .
    It delights in running down our District General Hospital.

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  • Nobody has mentioned that this was a pre-recorded call and the radio station management still broadcast it. Perhaps that is where some questions need to be answered too!

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  • Anonymous | 10-Dec-2012 2:48 pm

    It was pre-recorded and passed by the station's legal team prior to airing and was broadcast before the nurse's death. There will be a lot of questions asked.

    I am impressed by the actions of NSW NMA. They acted immediately and didn't wait for the the dreadful consequences before making their feelings felt to this radio station. They knew how serious this was for those involved and didn't waste any time in making that known. What do we get from any UK Nursing authority, professional organistaion, etc.? Too little, too late. It is all too typical of the ineffectual nursing bodies in this country. They just CAN'T stick up for their own. They don't even try.

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  • I don't know what the tipping point will be for nurses in this country to start fighting back against all the sh*t being thrown in our direction. Surely, there needs to be some positive outcome here.

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