The Telegraph
Saturday , December 8 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kate prank nurse found dead

- Royals shocked by death of Jacintha Saldanha who was first to take hoax call

London, Dec. 7: What was meant to be an Australian joke turned into a British tragedy today with the suicide of the nurse who was duped into putting through a hoax caller seeking information about Kate, the duchess of Cambridge.

King Edward VII hospital, where Kate had been receiving treatment for a severe form of morning sickness called “hyperemesis gravidarum”, confirmed the death of the nurse who put through the hoax call. “We can confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff, Jacintha Saldanha,” the hospital said in a statement.

Jacintha, who was 46, was looking after Kate when she received what she thought was a call from the Queen and Prince Charles at 5.30am in London on Tuesday. However, it was, in fact, from a female and a male Australian DJ, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, of the 2DayFM station in Sydney.

Jacintha’s ethnic origins were not being revealed by the hospital but it is obvious she did not spot the Australian accents of her callers.

A second (unnamed) nurse answered the hoax call and said: “She’s sleeping at the moment and she has had an uneventful night and sleep is good for her. She’s been given some fluids to rehydrate her because she was quite dehydrated when she came in but she’s stable at the moment.”

The nurse added: “She hasn’t had any retching with me since I’ve been on duty and she has been sleeping on and off. I think it’s difficult sleeping in a strange bed as well.”

The presenters gleefully told their listeners of the ease with which they had been able to get through, adding presumably to the first nurse’s sense of humiliation.

Kate and William were as shocked as anyone by the unexpected turn of events.

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha,” said a statement from St James’s Palace.

It added: “Their Royal Highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.”

It was made clear that Jacintha had not been disciplined in any way. “Jacintha has worked at the King Edward VII’s Hospital for more than four years,” the hospital said.

“She was an excellent nurse and a well-respected and popular member of staff with all her colleagues. We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital has been supporting her at this difficult time.”Hospital chief executive John Lofthouse 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.”

Lord Glenarthur, the hospital’s chairman, commented: “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.”

Scotland Yard said officers were called at around 9.35am today to a report of a woman found unconscious at an at an address in Weymouth Street, in central London.

“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.” The last is another way of saying she had taken her own life.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “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.”