Hospital where nurse was found dead denies Australian radio station's claims as presenters express sorrow

  • @James_Legge

The London hospital that treated the Duchess of Cambridge - and where the nurse Jacintha Saldanha worked before her apparent suicide - has denied that an Australian radio station tried to make contact with managers before broadcasting its hoax call.  

Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, which owns 2Day FM, had told Fairfax Media: “We rang them to discuss what we had recorded. We attempted to contact them on no less than five occasions. We wanted to speak to them about it.”

But a spokeswoman for London's King Edward VII's Hospital said today: “Following the hoax call, the radio station did not speak to anyone in the hospital's senior management or anyone at the company that handles our media inquiries.”

Last week, while the Duchess was at the hospital with severe morning sickness, the Australian station’s DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, tricked nurses at the hospital into believing they were receiving a call from the Queen.

Mother of two Ms Saldanha, 46, who took the initial phone-call before putting the pair through to a colleague, was found dead on Friday in a suspected suicide.

The MP Keith Vaz said today he had visited Benedict Barboza, Ms Saldanha’s partner, and their two children, and that they have yet to receive any counselling from the hospital, highlighting the contrast with the DJs themselves who are reported to have been offered support. Mr Vaz urged the hospital to launch an inquiry into the events preceding the death.

He told BBC Radio 4's The World at One: “My thoughts are with the family. They are devastated by what has happened, they are shocked and they are bewildered. What is necessary is a focus on their needs.”

“I would like to see them get the same support that is apparently being given to others because this is a very traumatic time.”

During recorded interviews on Australian TV yesterday, DJ Mel Greig and her colleague, Michael Christian,  spoke of the moment they heard that Jacintha Saldanha had died.

Greig said: “Unfortunately I remember that moment very well because I haven't stopped thinking about it since it happened.

“I remember my first question was: 'Was she a mother?'.

“I have thought about this a million times in my head, that I just wanted to reach out to them and just give them a big hug and say sorry.

“I hope they are OK, I really do.”

Of the death, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It is an absolute tragedy that this has happened and I am sure everyone will want to reflect on how it was allowed to happen.”