Showing posts with label Duchess of Cambridge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Duchess of Cambridge. Show all posts

12 December 2012

Death of a nurse

The tragic death of a nurse following a prank phone call from Australia should make us all think about how we deal with other people and how we respond when hurt. We can only behave as we should if we have hearts that are full of love for others.

Most people will have heard about the tragic death of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse involved in the hoax phone call to the London Hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge.

Amidst all the media activity and comment, maybe it's time to take a look at what happened and consider how we should respond.

The bare facts are quite straightforward. Mel Greig and Michael Christian are radio hosts working for an Australian station, 2Day FM. They decided it would be fun to phone the hospital pretending to be Prince Charles and the Queen asking for an update on Kate's condition, and were quite surprised when Jacintha took the call and put them through to the ward nurse.

The nurse on duty answered their questions. Later, when the news of the incident reached the hospital and Jacintha realised what she had done, I can only assume she must have been horrified, very, very embarrassed and upset. Later, she tragically committed suicide leaving her husband and children bereft of a loving wife and mother.

The suffering - Jacintha's family, her friends and colleagues, the hospital management, the Duke and Duchess and their families are all suffering some level of distress as a result. When news of the suicide reached Mel and Michael they, in turn, were dreadfully upset at what had happened.

Something that began as a prank has turned into a nightmare for so many people. Who should we feel most sorry for? Frankly, I feel sorry for almost everyone involved including Mel and Michael. What they did was foolish and unkind, but clearly not intended to cause a death. However, I have little sympathy for the management of the radio station.

It seems there have been previous incidents for which the station has been criticised (this is the fourth such event mentioned in the Wikipedia article about the station). But it's clear that listener ratings and company profits were once again put before caring behaviour and ethical procedures.

The company's CEO, Rhys Holleran, had the audacity to say it was not possible to foresee the suicide. That is true, but hardly relevant. It's a shameful failure to take responsibility. What was perfectly foreseeable is that any prank of this nature is certain to cause very serious embarrassment and distress. Isn't that the whole point? Embarrassment and distress amuse and excite audiences, keeping ratings and profits high. The station is now going to review its operating procedures, but changes should surely have been made when they were criticised for similar behaviour in the past.

What should happen now? - As a bare minimum Jacintha's family need immediate financial support to cover the costs of counselling, loss of income, and to cover whatever extra facilities are necessary for the family to function in her absence. Additionally there will be a need for significant compensation. A wife and a mother cannot be replaced, of course, nor can the lifetime experiences that she has lost.

It seems to me right and fair that the radio station should be required to meet all these costs as a bare minimum. And they need to change their standards of behaviour or face closure. I'm glad to hear that the radio station does plan to offer some financial help. This is to their credit, but should not prejudice any independent rulings on compensation or operating standards.

The hospital is also raising an appeal for Jacintha's family. They are not guilty of doing anything wrong, but it's possible their handling of incoming phone calls could be improved in some way, especially out of hours. They are looking into this.

What can we learn from this tragedy? - Surely the fundamental lesson is that we must always treat people with kindness. Deliberately embarrassing and distressing people, whether for commercial gain or for any other reason is simply not the right way to behave.

Paul, writing to the Ephesians almost 2000 years ago makes it very clear. He writes that 'the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control'. There is, he writes, no law against such things. (Galatians 5:22-23)

I hope that Mel and Michael will recover from their shock, grief and sorrow. Their lives will be changed by what has happened, hopefully they will warn others of the dangers of treating people unkindly. The worst thing that could happen now is for anyone else to be harmed. My prayer for Mel and Michael is that they will find the strength to endure this difficult time and to move on, not forgetting what has happened but learning from it. The same prayer goes out for all the managers and staff of the radio station.

My prayer for everyone else is that they will be able to forgive. A world without Jacintha is a poorer world, especially for those who knew her. Sorrow and grief are inevitable, nothing can bring her back, the only way is forward. They will all need time, courage and strength to take those forward steps. Father, bless them as only you know how - in Jesus' name.

Love - But what we all need in this amazing rainbow world of technology, war, natural beauty, knowledge, suffering, joy and wisdom is more love. Love for one another, love of what is good, endless love, love that never gives up, love that always hopes and believes the best. Only the heart of love can forgive and bless.

Here's Paul again (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Consider reading what the Scot, Henry Drummond, wrote about love in his amazing essay 'The Greatest Thing in the World'. Love is the one thing we need, both to give and to receive. We can't manage this, only Jesus can provide it. He is the source of love, both to give and to receive. Learn more about him from the seven signs in John.

If even one person learns about love something good will have come from this desperately regrettable incident.


  • How do you think the radio station might have prevented this?
  • How do you think the hospital might have prevented this?
  • Are you always guided by love in your dealings with other people?
  • How do you measure up to the standard Paul set out? How will you get help?

See also:


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