“It is with very deep sadness that we confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff, Jacintha Saldanha,” said John Lofthouse, King Edward’s chief executive. “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.”
Police said they had been called Friday morning about a woman found unconscious at an address near the hospital. The woman was pronounced dead after ambulance staff arrived, and police said they were not looking for suspects in the case.
The duke and duchess of Cambridge said they were “deeply saddened” by the death of the nurse, who was married with two children.
“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,” a statement from William’s office said.
Two presenters from Australia’s 2Day radio station called the hospital Tuesday pretending to be William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and his father, Prince Charles. Despite unconvincing accents, they were put through to the ward where the pregnant Catherine was being treated.
Saldanha answered the call because it was early and there were no receptionists on duty, and passed it to a nurse on the ward.
William’s office said there had been no royal complaint about the breach of confidentiality. “On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times,” a spokesman said.
The events come as Britain’s media scramble to agree on a new system of self-regulation and avoid state intervention after a damning inquiry into reporting practices.
The radio station and its owner said the presenters were shocked and would stay off their show until further notice out of respect for Saldanha’s death.