A British politician, Keith Vaz, has claimed the surviving family of nurse Jacinctha Saldanha have been given less support than the two Australian DJ’s who prank called the hospital where she worked.
Mr Vaz, visited Saldanha’s family at their home in Southmead, Bristol over the weekend and said they have been left “shocked and bewildered” by her death, but have received no counselling from the Edward VII hospital.
Two days after Saldanha transferred a prank call from 2Day FM radio presenters to Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge’s personal nurse at the King Edward VII hospital, 46-year-old Saldanha committed suicide reportedly due to feeling of “shame” over the incident.
Now, as the repercussions of Saldanha’s death continue to unfold, accusations are mounting that the needs of her immediate family are not being met.
After visiting Ms Saldana’s husband, Benedict Barboza, and his two teenage children at their home in Southmead, Bristol, Mr Vaz publicly urged the Edward VII hospital to launch an inquiry into Ms Saldanha’s death and offer more help.
Mr Vaz 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. What is needed clearly is an inquiry by the hospital into what has happened. The hospital has sent them a letter which I have seen, but I am a little surprised that nobody has made the journey to Bristol to sit with them and offer the counselling they need.”
“More support needs to be given. I’ve spoken to the chairman of the hospital. There is a need to demonstrated that support. A hundred or so miles should not prevent the kind of support that they need.”
Today, the two radio DJ’s — Mel Grieg and Michael Christian — gave an interview on Australian television and said they were “incredibly sorry” about the tragic consequences of their prank call.
Grieg said her first question when told of Saldanha’s death was, “was she a mother?”
Christian revealed that he felt “shattered, gutted, heartbroken” over the nurse’s death. The presenters also said they couldn’t believe their call — made last Tuesday —- even get through and that they had “wanted to be hung up” on.
While both presenters have been suspended from their jobs, it’s believed this is to protect them from the highly critical backlash that followed. Reportedly, the pair are said to be in a “fragile” mental state.
Both DJ’s are being supported by 2Dday FM. In a Saturday press conference, Rhys Holleran, CEO of parent company Southern Cross Austereo declared that neither presenter would be sacked over the affair.
Today, the British Prime Minister David Cameron described Ms Saldanha’s death as “an absolute tragedy.” He added, “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.”
Ms Saldanha’s body was discovered at staff accommodation near the Edward VII hospital in Central London on Friday morning.
On Saturday, Lord Glenarthur, the chairman of the hospital, blasted the prank call in a written letter to the chairman of Southern Cross Austereo — Max Moore-Wilton.
Describing the radio station’s decision to broadcast the pre-recorded hoax call — in which Grieg and Christian pretended to be the Queen and Charles, Prince of Wales — as “premeditated and ill-considered actions,” Glenarthur said it directly led to the “humiliation” of Ms Saldanha and the other nurse involved.
The Telegraphreports that the King Edward VII hospital have said they contacted the Saldanha family by telephone on Saturday and invited them to meet at their home in Bristol, or in London.
A postmortem examination of Ms Saldanha’s body is scheduled to take place this week ahead of an inquest.
In addition to Southern Cross Austereo and 2Day FM possibly facing an inquiry from Australia’s broadcast media watchdog, it’s believed the UK’s Metropolitan police may question Greig and Christian ahead of an investigation into Ms Saldanha’s untimely death.