Post-mortem due to take place on Duchess of Cambridge nurse Jacintha Saldanha
Tuesday 11 December 2012
A post-mortem examination is due to be held today on the nurse who apparently took her own life after she was duped by a hoax call made to the hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge.
Tributes have been paid to Jacintha Saldanha, who died in a suspected suicide on Friday after she was fooled by two Australian radio hosts making a prank call to the King Edward VII's Hospital in London.
The hospital worker transferred the presenters, believing they were the Queen and the Prince of Wales, to a colleague who described in detail the condition of Kate during her treatment for severe pregnancy sickness last Tuesday.
Ms Saldanha, 46, from Bristol, was found dead three days later in a block of nurses' flats close to the hospital.
MP Keith Vaz met the nurse's family in Parliament last night and said they had been left "devastated" by the loss of a "loving mother and a loving wife".
The family also visited the King Edward VII's Hospital, while a memorial service will be held later this week.
Flanked by Ms Saldanha's husband Benedict Barboza and her two teenage children, Mr Vaz said: "They just want me to say that they are extremely grateful to the public here in the United Kingdom and throughout the world who have sent them messages of condolences and support following the death of Jacintha - a loving mother and a loving wife.
"This is a close family. They are devastated by what has happened. They miss her every moment of every day but they are really grateful to the support of the British public and to the public overseas for the messages of support and kindness."
The nurse's brother Naveen told the Daily Mail his sister was a devout Roman Catholic and would have been "devastated" by her unwitting role in the breach of medical confidentiality.
Mr Vaz has called for the hospital to provide the family with more support and to hold an inquiry.
His criticism came after the two Australian DJs behind the hoax call - Mel Greig and Michael Christian - gave an emotional account of their reaction to the nurse's death.
Interviewed on Australian TV networks, the 2Day FM presenters said their prank call to the hospital had "a tragic turn of events no-one could have predicted or expected".
A tearful Greig, who was at times comforted by Christian, told Today Tonight on Australia's Channel Seven: "There's nothing that can make me feel worse than what I feel right now. And for what I feel for the family.
"We're so sorry that this has happened to them."
Prime Minister David Cameron also described Ms Saldanha's death as "an absolute tragedy".
Asked about the incident at a Westminster lunch, Mr Cameron said: "I feel incredibly sorry for her and her family. 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."
In response to Mr Vaz's criticism the hospital said its chief executive John Lofthouse had spoken to the nurse's husband on Friday by phone and offered to meet him whenever he wanted.
The hospital has also established a memorial fund in the nurse's name to provide financial support for her family and made the first donation to the fund.
In a statement Southern Cross Austereo, the parent company of 2Day FM, said it had suspended advertising on the Sydney radio station until further notice, ended Greig and Christian's Hot 30 show and suspended prank calls across the company.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority, which regulates radio broadcasting, confirmed it had received complaints from all around the world, and said it was considering whether it should launch an investigation into whether the presenters breached the Commercial Radio Code of Practice.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have sent their condolences to Ms Saldanha's family.
The nurse is originally from Mangalore in south-west India, according to reports and her teenage children are said to be daughter Lisha, 14, and son Junal, 16.
A St James's Palace spokesman stressed that they had not complained to the hospital about the hoax call, saying: "On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times."
Greig and Christian are said to be receiving "intensive psychological counselling" to deal with the tragedy.
Police in London have contacted their Australian counterparts with a view to interviewing the two DJs ahead of an inquest into Ms Saldanha's death.
Scotland Yard said a post-mortem examination would be held at Westminster Mortuary and it was likely an inquest would be opened and adjourned at Westminster Coroner's Court later this week.
The death is not being treated as suspicious.
Southern Cross Austereo has cancelled its Christmas party later this week following the death of Ms Saldanha.
A spokeswoman for the company said it would be "inappropriate" to go ahead with the Sydney staff Christmas party.
Instead, money which would have been spent on the event will go to charity, she added.
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