New questions hover over Jacinta’s suicide

Forme Darwin Hospital PR officer, Vanessa Hein.


The tragedy of the thoughtless radio prank which led to the suicide of nurse Jacinta Sadanha  is just awful.  Greig and Christian when they apologised on television appeared crushed, tearful and full of remorse.  The   London news footage of Jacinta’s husband and two children with the young daughter covering her eyes was heart-wrenching; the world audience could feel their desperate grief.

The Australian duo has worn the blame, but I do wonder whether hospital management had any part in that woman’s despair.  What I have been thinking is How was Jacinta treated by the hospital management after the prank?   We don’t really know whether she was treated with understanding and support or whether she was abused by management or  ostracised by her nursing colleagues. We will never know. But there are questions which should be levelled at King Edward VII management.  Were the nurses  treating the Duchess of Cornwall  briefed on the likelihood of prank calls?  Were any procedures put in place to handle telephone enquiries to the ward, even from the Queen?  Was she briefed to put ALL telephone enquiries through to her superior?  My thought is that Jacinta was totally unprepared for the telephone call.  In my 40-year full-time working life, I have experienced serious, damaging bullying by the odd manager.  One in particular had me shaking in shock at the metamophosis of a man, whom I thought to be a commanding kind senior manager, who turned into a raging, threatening bully at a mere discrepancy.   This experience, particularly, leads me to wonder whether hospital management had any part in that woman’s despair.

Vanessa Hein, a former PR colleague of mine, wrote the letter below, published in  The Advertiser this week.  She  worked at a major Australian public hospital for three years as a PR officer and in her covering email she said she had had her eyes “well and truly opened’’ with not only hospital politics, but the lengths the media will go for a story.


Did anyone at 2DayFM (perhaps a  producer or researcher) stop to consider the consequences of what is termed “never more than a harmless prank” before the call was made to Kind Edward V11 Hospital ?


Together with Greig and Christian, what were they thinking?  Have any of them heard of the term “patient confidentiality”?  What did they think would happen to any of the nursing staff or the Duchess of Cambridge if the call made it through.  Do they know what pressure nurses are under in the normal course of their duties let alone having to scrutinize phone calls?


Once a upon a time the media had lateral vision. How “blind” are the decision-makers at 2DayFM?


Some people and some situations should be off limits.  Sadly, this proved to be one of them.


May Jacintha Sadanha rest in peace and her family be given the comfort they need as Christmas approaches.”


However, in her covering email, Vanessa also added the following thoughts which are also valid.  “Blind Freddy would have known there would be some form of trouble.  Hospitals, airports, the fire service, the ambulance service etc should be “off limits” to prank calls from the media. Simple!”



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