A nurse who took the prank Australian radio call at the hospital which treated the Duchess of Cambridge when telephone hoaxers struck earlier this week has been found dead.
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, named as Jacintha Saldanha, who the hospital said had worked there for four years, was found at an address near the King Edward.
Hospital bosses have just released a statement paying tribute to the woman’s service.
The hospital said in a statement: “We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital had been supporting her throughout this difficult time. Jacintha has worked at the King Edward VII’s Hospital for more than four years. She was an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues.”
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police were called 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.”
Jacintha transferred the hoaxers to a second nurse on the Duchess’s ward who gave them an update about her condition saying she had had an “uneventful night”.
The Duchess was released from the hospital yesterday but the stunt provoked global outrage.
William and Kate were reported to be angry at the intrusion.
Jacintha who has been found dead took the call from the radio DJs in the early hours of Tuesday morning saying: “Hello, good morning, King Edward VII Hospital.”
The presenter, Mel Greig, who was impersonating the Queen said: “Oh, hello there. Could I please speak to Kate please, my granddaughter?”
Jacintha answered: “Oh yes, just hold on ma’am.”
The two hoaxers, Greig and Michael Christian, were put through to a second nurse who told them: “She’s sleeping at the moment and she has had an uneventful night. She’s been given some fluids, she’s stable at the moment.”
The 2Day FM station later apologised for the shocking prank.
The stunt was deeply embarrassing for the Edward VII Hospital, which is the medical institution of choice for the Royal Family.
After the incident, John Lofthouse, chief executive at the King Edward VII Hospital, said: “This was a foolish prank call that we all deplore. We take patient confidentiality extremely seriously and we are now reviewing our telephone protocols.”
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge issued a statement saying they are ‘deeply saddened’ by the tragedy and said: “Their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.”