Hoax call nurse left a note before suspected suicide

Family demand answers from hospital as MP calls for full inquiry into tragic death

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The Independent Online

Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who died in a suspected suicide after becoming the victim of a hoax call, left a note for her family before she died, it has emerged.

Saldanha, 46, took her own life after transferring a call from Australian radio DJs pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles to the ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for acute morning sickness.

The nurse left a note for her family, husband Benedict Barboza and children Junal, 17, and Lisha, 14, the Evening Standard reported. She was found unconscious in the nurses’ quarters at the King Edward VII hospital, in central London.

A post-mortem examination on her body was carried out by a Home Office pathologist to determine the cause of her death.

Scotland Yard said an inquest would be opened and adjourned at Westminster Coroner's Court, following the results of a post-mortem examination, which will be made public.

Saldanha, who was the senior nurse on duty at the hospital when the phone call was made at 5:30am last Tuesday, is believed to have hanged herself, according to reports.

However her family said there remained “unexplained circumstances” surrounding the death and demanded answers from the hospital.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, who is representing the family, met Lord Glenarthur, the hospital chairman, to demand a full inquiry.

The MP said that the nurse’s family received less support than the Australian DJs, who have been given counselling and expressed their sorrow over Saldhana’s death in a tearful television interview.

The chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said: “The chairman of the hospital said to me that there are inquiries going on in the hospital.

“That is not sufficient for the family. There are unexplained circumstances. The family want to know everything. All the facts, fully and clearly. A full inquiry is needed and the family need to be included in that.”

Mr Vaz said the family had been “in the dark about the hoax call. They hadn’t watched the news or seen anything about it. They didn’t know they were involved until after Jacintha’s death.”

Southern Cross Austereo, the company which owns the Australian radio station, 2Day FM, which made the call, said it would be donating a minimum of £326,643 to a memorial fund set up in Mrs Saldanha’s name by King Edward VII Hospital. The radio station has cancelled its Christmas party.

Rhys Holleran, Southern Cross Austereo’s chief executive, said: “We hope that by contributing to a memorial fund we can help to provide the Saldanha family with the support they need at this very difficult time.”

Lord Glenarthur welcomed Southern Cross Austereo's decision to make a sizeable donation. He said: “I have today read that Southern Cross media group have pledged to make a minimum donation of 500,000 Australian dollars (£326,643) to an appropriate fund. We would certainly welcome such a donation to (our own) Jacintha Saldanha Memorial Fund.”

He added that the hospital’s fund, also established for the nurse’s family, had received many donations from around the world. The hospital itself made the first donation to the fund.

David Cameron said it was right for Saldanha's family to be given all the information possible about her death.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Liaison Committee, Mr Cameron said: “It is a dreadful case and an absolute tragedy for the family. When any of these things happen, having the full facts of the case doesn't bring anybody back, but it does, I think, help people come to terms with what has happened.”

The Duchess of Cambridge, who was discharged from hospital on Thursday is said to have suffered another bout of morning sickness since.

She will not be joining Prince William at The Hobbit premiere in Leicester Square on Wednesday evening and will “continue to rest privately”, a royal official said.