Hospital names Kate Middleton nurse found dead after prank call

A nurse who was found dead today after a hoax telephone call was made to the hospital treating Kate Middleton has been named as Jacintha Saldanha.

Earlier reports had referred to Ms Saldanha as a "receptionist".

The King Edward VII hospital said it made the announcement with “very deep sadness”.

The statement added: “Jacintha has worked at the King Edward VII Hospital for more than four years.

“She was an excellent nurse and well respected and popular with all over her colleagues.

“We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital has been supporting her at this difficult time.”

Two Australian radio DJs impersonated the Queen and the Prince of Wales to dupe staff into giving a condition update on Kate, who was suffering severe morning sickness at the private King Edward VII Hospital in central London.

The nurse was found at an address near the hospital.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police were called at approximately 9.35am this morning to a report of a woman found unconscious at an address in Weymouth Street, W1.

“London Ambulance Service attended and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Inquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances of the incident.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious at this stage.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are “deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha”, St James's Palace said today, adding: “Their Royal Highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha's family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.”

The presenters, from 2Day FM, remarked during their show how their efforts were the “easiest prank call ever made”, as they put on mock British accents they later described as “terrible”.

Hospital chief executive John Lofthouse condemned the hoax call, made in the early hours of Tuesday.

In a statement issued later on Tuesday, Mr Lofthouse said: “I think this whole thing is pretty deplorable, our nurses are caring, professional people trained to look after patients, not to cope with journalistic trickery of this sort.”

He said there was no chance the Duchess could have received the call, adding: “Technically I think this was a breach of patient confidentiality, which I very much regret. Having said that, the information which was inadvertently revealed is already in the public domain.”

The 2Day FM presenters, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, later apologised for their actions as did their radio station.

The station was expected to issue a statement about the death later today.

The DJs made their call at around 5.30am on Tuesday and are thought to have been put through by Ms Saldanha, 46.

Another nurse then told them: “She’s sleeping at the moment and she has had an uneventful night and sleep is good for her.

“She’s been given some fluids to rehydrate her because she was quite dehydrated when she came in but she’s stable at the moment.”

The nurse added: “She hasn’t had any retching with me since I’ve been on duty and she has been sleeping on and off. I think it’s difficult sleeping in a strange bed as well.”

The prank call was deeply embarrassing for the hospital, which is the medical institution of choice for the Royal Family.

Mr Lofthouse said on Tuesday the hospital was considering whether to take any action against the radio station.

He added: “I’ve received advice that what the Australian broadcasters did may well have broken the law. On the other hand they’ve apologised for it so we’re going to have a long and careful think about what, if anything, we do.”

The prank call was pre-recorded and vetted by lawyers before being broadcast to listeners in Sydney.

In their initial apology the two presenters said: “We were very surprised that our call was put through. We thought we’d be hung up on as soon as they heard our terrible accents.

“We’re very sorry if we’ve caused any issues and we’re glad to hear that Kate is doing well.”

Hospital chief executive John Lofthouse said today: “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies at this time are with her family and friends. Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much-loved and valued colleague.”

Lord Glenarthur, the hospital’s chairman, said: “This is a tragic event. Jacintha was a first class nurse who cared diligently for hundreds of patients during her time with us. She will be greatly missed.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This is tragic news, and the thoughts of all at the Royal College of Nursing go to the family of Jacintha Saldanha.

“It is deeply saddening that a simple human error due to a cruel hoax could lead to the death of a dedicated and caring member of the nursing profession.”

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