By Duchess of Hackney

Hackney livin' n lovin'. Sarky frosty knickers always gobby, and perpetually pissed off for good reasons. Wind up merchant extraordinaire, but a nice old fashioned unusually unusual gal... Writing lots of wrongs.

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Don’t blame the DJ’s at 2DayFM for Jacintha Saldanha death

Greig and Christian

Put your pitch forks and your collective self-righteousness away, calm down and listen up. There is only so much one can convey in 140 characters, which is probably why some people interpreted my tweet last night in support of the Australian DJ’s, Mel Greig and Michael Christian as cold and callous. I can assure you I am neither and was merely trying to indicate that Jacintha Saldanha must have had other issues to make her take her life. Suicide is a very complex issue and there is no telling what went wrong.

There is however a phenomenon on social net working sites that brings out ghoulishness in a different form, one of over-sentimentalism from people who never knew the victim. There is also the blame game and an almost blood thirsty  mob lynch mentality from excitable people.

None of these people knew Jacintha Saldanah, we don’t know if a suicide note  was left and cause of her death has not been concluded. Ms Saldanah never gave out any personal information, it was another nurse.

Jacintha Saldanha

What I do know is that a 46 year old woman with two children is dead for whatever reasons. If she did take her life over the prank call, then it’s all the more tragic, it’s even more tragic that because of a wealthy family , revered by people in this country and world over, all because they were born into privilege, she felt she had done something unforgivable. Would she have felt  that bad had if it was your garden variety member of public?

I notice her employers were quick to label her “a victim of a cruel hoax”, but what about them? They claim she was not disciplined for her actions, but I bet she was reprimanded. An organization of that caliber doesn’t give its employees a warm hug and pat on the back after such a faux pas and  you know she got an almighty rollicking. If the paper the statement from the King George VII wasn’t so hard, I’d use it for toilet paper. The guttersnipe press are as much to blame too, because you know they’ve been pestering her, colleagues and neighbours since the incident. And they are still at it…besides themselves with excitement.

Here is what a nurse wrote about hospital protocol on a forum today.

Those of you who are so adamant that hospital staff should say nothing at all to telephone enquiries from ‘relatives’ will, I suppose, never phone a hospital ward yourselves for an update on any of your loved ones

I wonder why we give relatives booklets with contact numbers?
I spend a lot of my day (as an ITU nurse) talking to concerned family members and of course we are going to give basic information about the patient’s progress. That’s part of our nursing role.

Nurses who convey confidential information about a patient would be subject to disciplinary action but not for conveying very basic, general information. For example, a nurse would rightly be disciplined for telling a relative that the patient had taken a drugs overdose even if the reason the patient was on life support was because of the overdose and the relative was the patient’s mother. We have been unable to tell a patient’s family that her prolonged deterioration in ITU was a result of HIV infection even as the family maintained a constant vigil by the bedside and were worried sick. Likewise with most diagnoses – we need the patient’s permission to reveal any private information and, if the patient is unable to (due to being unconscious or not of sound mental capacity), then we have to respect the confidentiality wishes of the designated next of kin. Any breaches are taken very seriously.

If this call really had been from the queen then what was said was perfectly acceptable, as far as I can see, and did not breach any professional ethics. Part of the nursing role is effectively communicating with and giving reassurance to family members. It has only become an issue because it was a hoax call that was broadcast around the world.

I stated earlier that I believe the hospital when they said they were not going to discipline the nurses because the nurses only acted as they would have done if this had been a bona fide call. They really did not give away any confidential information as far as I can ascertain (I have not listened to the recording but have read transcripts).

I can certainly believe that the nurses were made to feel pretty horrible by the hospital management due to the embarrassment caused by this furore. There will have been intense interviews with important members of the hospital management as part of the investigation process and it can be very scary and intimidating. The press and media hype will not have helped and the poor nurse was obviously unhinged by the experience.

The fact that a trained nursed was helping out on the switchboard is a revealing fact – it may be that she was recovering from illness and was being phased back into work by performing non clinical duties. It is very unusual for a nurse to act as a receptionist but I don’t really know that much about the private sector.

The result of all this is probably all hospitals will over react and instruct all staff to say nothing at all to anyone who calls for any information. It will certainly make my life a lot easier because relatives can be very demanding and persistent on the phone at very busy periods when we should actually be carrying out the care for the patient and not trying to pacify anxious, sometimes rude relatives on the telephone.

No rational person takes their life over a work related incident such as hers, especially with 2 children at home. It’s too late for Jacintha Saldanah but the people who need desperate help now are the DJ’s involved. Can you imagine the emotional pain and turmoil  they must be in? You’d have to be a psychopath not to feel some sort of guilt, so spare them a thought,  they must be going through hell. The worst thing to do is to keep them from work and I feel they should be allowed back.

If Mel Grieg and Michael Christian can see this through and stay strong, they will come out all the more better and hopefully have a great future beyond a silly radio show monkeying around. I have a feeling that was their last prank.

RIP Jacintha Saldanah

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