Hospital holds service for hoax nurse in tragedy

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A private memorial service was held at the King Edward VII’s Hospital yesterday for the nurse who was found dead after being duped by a prank call from two Australian radio DJs.

Staff gathered at the London hospital to pay their respects to Jacintha Saldanha, a mother-of-two from Bristol, who was found hanging in her nurses’ quarters by a colleague and a security guard last Friday.

The nurse transferred the DJs, believing they were the Queen and Prince of Wales, to a colleague who described in detail the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge during her hospital stay for severe pregnancy sickness.

John Lofthouse, chief executive at the hospital, said: “King Edward VII’s is a small hospital, with a tight-knit team.

“Everybody knew Jacintha, and we were all left deeply shocked by her tragic death following the hoax telephone call.

“Today’s service was a chance for everyone here to pay their respects and remember a dear colleague.”

An inquest into her death heard on Thursday that Ms Saldanha left three suicide notes, with the Guardian reporting that one of the notes criticised staff at the hospital.

A hospital spokeswoman said: “No one has seen the notes, so we can’t comment on the reports or their accuracy.”

She added: “We can reiterate that Jacintha was an outstanding nurse doing her duty caring for sick patients. Following the hoax call, hospital management offered her their support and told her that they considered her to be the victim of a cruel hoax, and that they stood by her actions.”

She said no disciplinary action was taken against the nurse.

A mass was due to be held for Ms Saldanha at Westminster Cathedral today.

The Indian-born nurse, whose body was identified by her accountant husband Benedict Barboza, was also found with marks on her wrist, Westminster Coroner’s Court in London heard.

The DJs behind the hoax call – Mel Greig and Michael Christian – have said it prompted “a tragic turn of events no one could have predicted or expected”.

Staff at SCA, the parent company of their radio station, 2Day FM, have been forced to move into safe accommodation and managers have recruited bodyguards for their protection, according to reports because of death threats, with one letter specifically targeting Christian.