British Royal Nurse Death Mystery
If you haven't heard about the tragic death of Royal nurse Jacintha Saldanha, read on.
In December 2012, Kate, the pregnant wife of Prince William (heir to the British throne), was admitted to hospital with a severe form of morning sickness.
As is customary within Royal circles, she was admitted to private King Edward VII hospital in central London, which has a long history of treating members of the Royal family.
Very early on the morning of December 4, 2012, two Australian DJ's from Aussie radio station 2Day FM called the hospital pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, for a laugh, never expecting to actually be put through.
They were, and were given intimate details of the Duchess of Cambridge's condition.
To a native English speaker, they sounded ludicrously NOT like either the Queen or Prince Charles, with playful banter and silly references to 'feeding' and 'walking the corgis'.
Jacintha Saldanha was the nurse who answered the phone first time, and transferred the call through to the second nurse.
You can hear from her accent she was was an ESL (English Second Language) speaker, and so therefore would not have realised she was not actually talking to the queen.
Two days later, on the 7th of December, the 46 year old mother of two was found dead in her quarters in the nurses home attached to the hospital.
While her tragic death is being widely assumed to be suicide, no such official judgement has been made, although an inquest has still to be held.
According to her family, the southern Indian woman was a devout Catholic who had not suffered from any previous mental condition or depression.
The Catholic religion also severely prohibits suicide.
The Australian DJ's
Radio 2Day FM DJ's Mel Greig and Michael Christian are devastated.
Speaking on Australian TV, their grief is obvious, as tears stream down Mel's face.
How could they possibly have imagined events would take such a disastrous turn?
What started out as a joke, has turned into a living nightmare for both DJ's, whose futures are now in doubt.
Yet some of the steps being taken now, with suggestions of the law stepping in and closing down the station are just ridiculous.
These people carried out a prank hoax call that was never intended to cause any harm.
I thought it was funny, as did many millions of others, until the unexpected death of the nurse who took the call.
That death was completely out of place, out of character, and out of order.
Mel Greig and Michael Christian apologise
King Edward VII Hospital
The King Edward VII Hospital Sister Agnes, to give it its full name, has been a long established medical facility for the Royal family and military veterans.
In the past, it has treated as in-patients Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, Prince Philip, Princess Margaret, Prince Charles, his wife the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) and the Countess of Wessex (wife of Prince Edward), to name but a few.
So, perhaps someone can explain to me why, when the street outside this hospital was almost impassable due to the world's Press camping on the doorstep, there was no telephone operator on duty at the hospital at 5.30am?
It was left to nurse Jacintha to take this call, or indeed any other call to this 58 bed hospital.
Where were the Royal security staff?
The King Edward VII Hospital boasts "58, private, air-conditioned, rooms" and describes itself as "London's best private hospital" employing top nurses, consultants and physicians.
Yet it failed to have a properly qualified telephone operator on duty overnight?
Nurses are not telephone operators, and should not have been used as such.
Especially not poor Jacintha Saldanha who was either given the unearthly task, or was passing the ringing phone at the time.
She was a NURSE, and a top grade one from all accounts, and was not there to field telephone calls.
The proper procedure for nurses taking calls
Strangely, something the media have failed to address is the proper procedure for taking telephone calls in hospital.
Having only ever worked in NHS hospitals, where, despite their failings, they have always managed to have a properly-trained telephone operator on duty at all times, as a nurse I was trained to give out the minimum information about a patient.
If you listen to the recording of the hoax telephone call above, you might at first be tempted to think that the nurse gave out too much information.
But she didn't.
In line with protocol, she was able to say the patient was about to get freshened up for the day, which in reality means she was still sleeping but would get wakened soon.
If you listen, the nurse sounds nervous but doesn't give anything away that wouldn't be in keeping with her training.
The proper procedure would only have been to say the patient was comfortable, and that would have been it, apart from offering suitable visiting times.
The nurse gave away a little more information, but she sounded nervous which just goes to show she thought she really was talking to the queen.
Still, no harm done.
What Happened after the Story Broke?
This is what I would like to know.
If I was the nurse involved, I would expect to get hauled over the coals, and indeed this may have happened.
The day after the incident, the Daily Mail reported that hospital boss John Lofthouse, the chief executive of the King Edward VII hospital as saying:
"This was a foolish prank call that we all deplore. We take patient confidentiality extremely seriously and we are now reviewing our telephone protocols".
Bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Meanwhile, the Care Quality Commission, another British quango set up to monitor care standards in UK hospitals, admitted they had already been informed of the incident and were looking at the details, along with the prestigious Nursing and Midwifery Council, who have the power to remove a nurse's right to practise.
All this would have been impressed on poor Nurse Saldanha, and may or may not have been responsible for her apparent suicide.
The hospital only spoke out publicly FOR Ms Saldanha after her death. Pity they didn't have so much praise for her beforehand.
This woman, whose teenage children at the time of her death were only 14 and 16, was obviously blamed at least in the early stages.
What our Australian counterparts have failed to understand, is that the British Establishment have absolutely NO SENSE OF HUMOUR and a decidedly dodgy sense of propriety.
Having said that, I am still not convinced that Jacintha Saldanha committed suicide.
She may have died from natural causes, brought about by the strain her employers put her under, or she may have been murdered.
What better way to ensure the future privacy of the Royal family, and to ensure that never again does any radio station try to play a trick on them?
Someone, somewhere, is responsible for this.
It isn't Mel Greig and Michael Christian, and it certainly isn't Nurse Jacintha Saldanha, nor the nurse who spoke to the DJs.
Talking of whom, what happened to her? Is she all right? Is anyone keeping an eye open for her?
Message to Mel Greig and Michael Christian
This is my personal message to both Mel Greig and Michael Christian, but especially to you, Mel.
This is not your fault!
Please, you got a great coup!
It sounds to me like you thought you'd try to get through to Kate, who would have known right away you weren't who you said you were, and may have seen the joke.
Instead, you got a regular hospital update from staff who thought you were the Queen and Prince Charles.
At 5.30am, staff are barely life-forms even in the busiest of hospitals.
It really is the dead hour!
Having said that, no-one, and I mean absolutely no-one could have foreseen the tragedy about to unfold, except perhaps the hospital bosses at the time.
They are the ones who coped with the fall-out. They created the fallout.
Don't let their actions ruin your lives too.
One day this will all fade, though I have no doubt you are feeling some of the pain felt by the family of Jacintha.
Something else happened too, and we may never know what, so don't blame yourselves.