Jacintha Case - Aussie Radio Station Feels the Heat, UK's Nursing Community in Shock
Daijiworld Media Network
London, Dec 8: The prank call that led to suspected suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, who hailed from Mangalore, has had the Australian radio station which aired the prank in a fix. Ever since her death was reported on Friday December 7, Sydney's 2Day FM has been on the receiving end of much criticism and public fury from across the world.
Jacintha Saldanda, who was married to Benedict Barboza from Shirva, Udupi in India, was found dead two days after a prank call by the radio's presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who pretended to be the Queen and Prince Charles and elicited private information on Kate Middleton's health from a nurse at King Edward VII hospital where the duchesss was admitted. It was Jacintha who had transferred the call, believing Grieg to be the Queen.
The radio presenters who played the prank
Following the controvesy, all advertisements have been suspended indefinitely from the radio channel, reported UK's 'Mirror'.
"Ads were pulled from Sydney’s 2Day FM as the fallout from the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha continued," the Mirror stated.
It further said, "Following the backlash against the presenters and the station, a spokeswoman for the radio station owner, Southern Cross Austereo, confirmed there would be no advertising on 2Day FM over the weekend.
"Sandy Kay said: 'We have suspended advertising at least until Monday on that radio station in Sydney out of respect to advertisers until business issues can really be addressed. Advertisers obviously have panicked, I'm sure it will all settle down.'
The move was prompted by the pullout of ads by Australian supermarket giant Coles and Telstra. The company in its statement said that it had instructed the 2Day FM to remove all its ads, as it was apparent that Australians were clearly angry and upset about the incident.
The Mirror also stated that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which regulates radio broadcasting, has been receiving complaints and that it is now in the process of discussing the matter with the Sydney-based station.
"We've had a lot but it doesn't actually matter, we only need one complaint to launch an investigation. But we haven't launched an investigation yet, we're engaging with the licensee at the moment," the report quoted an ACMA spokeswoman.
The ACMA is looking at the Commercial Radio Code of Practice to see whether presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian have breached it.
Extending its 'deepest sympathies' to the Jacintha's family and all who have been affected by the incident, the radio station said in a statement that both presenters were 'deeply shocked' and will not comment on the issue.
"It is understood Jacintha had not been formally reprimanded over the hoax and St James’s Palace said it had never reported it to the hospital," the Mirror stated, adding that the police said they were not treating the death as suspicious.
Nursing Bodies express shock and concern
Meanwhile, UK daily 'Express' reported that healthcare organisations have expressed concern over the fatal hoax call.
"A spokesman for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said it did 'not condone' the trick played by 2day FM presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian to extract information from the staff treating Kate," it stated.
As per the report, RCN chief executive Dr Peter Carter said in a statement: "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."
The New South Wales Nurses and Midwives' Association also released a statement, in which it said, "The New South Wales Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) expresses its sincere condolences to the family, friends and work colleagues of British nurse Jacintha Saldanha.
"The NSWNMA had written to Mr Jeremy Simpson, general manager of 2Day FM, prior to this tragic incident occurring.
"We urge all nurses and midwives who are under pressure or feeling stress to seek appropriate assistance and to not feel afraid to reach out for help."
The letter from NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes expressing his concerns about the prank call was sent to the Australian radio station yesterday before he was aware of Ms Saldanha's death, the Express stated.
In the letter, he said: "While I appreciate that your station may well consider this incident a successful coup in terms of its news and entertainment value... I would like to draw your attention to the very serious professional consequences such a stunt would have had for a nurse or midwife in the Australian context."
The letter explains that if the call had been to a hospital in Australia, the nurses involved could potentially have had to go through three separate disciplinary processes, including those conducted by their employer and other inquiries conducted by the regulating authority and the Health Care Complaints Commission.
He described these processes as "stressful and deeply traumatic experiences for many nurses and midwives, regardless of the level of wrongdoing".
The letter adds: "In the future I urge you to consider the personal toll such a prank could exact from a profession care-giver."
He said he hoped the station "has undertaken to never again attempt to jeopardise their professional standing by perpetrating such a deception against another hardworking nurse or midwife".