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Does Kate’s hospital care more about PR than its own nurses
10:13 GMT, 12 December 2012
Even if you’d never heard of the King Edward VII Hospital before that infamous prank call, a quick look at its online brochure would have told you all about its self-belief and famous heritage.
Established more than 100 years ago, it hand-picks its consultants, claims a zero rate of hospital-acquired MRSA infections, and offers all patients well-appointed private rooms with ensuite bathrooms.
Of course, because the private hospital business is fiercely competitive, huge effort is exerted to recruit the best consultants and to offer a five-star service.
Heritage: Established more than 100 years ago, the King Edward VII Hospital hand-picks its consultants and claims a zero rate of hospital-acquired MRSA infections
But for the King Edward VII in Central London, there’s no doubt that what gives it the commercial edge is not its staff or the fine meals on offer, but its peerless royal connections.
The Queen is not only patron but also a former patient — she had surgery on her knee there in 2003. In addition, the Queen Mother, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla and Sophie Wessex have all been treated there.
So when the world discovered how easy it was for Australia’s 2Day FM hoaxers to hoodwink the staff, the hospital found itself facing a major PR crisis.
All hospitals have a prime duty to protect their patients’ privacy. But when your unique selling point is that those patients include the Royal Family, a failure to guarantee that privacy becomes potentially catastrophic.
No one — not the DJ pranksters, not the hospital, not William and Kate — could possibly have predicted that the nurse who put through the call would feel so devastated she would take her own life. But it surely doesn’t require much imagination to realise that the nurses involved would have felt both personally and professionally humiliated.
Certainly that thought occurred to William and Kate. As William’s office was quick to point out: ‘We offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times.’
Tragedy: Prince William's office was quick to point out: 'We offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times'
Even so, the hospital’s management had suffered terrible damage to its much-prized image. Despite long experience of dealing with the royals, it appears to have been unprepared for the level of attention such a high-profile patient would inevitably attract.
With what now seems to have been fatal complacency, it appears not to have occurred to anyone that it should upgrade its usual night-time telephone protocol, whereby calls to the switchboard are automatically diverted to a senior nurse on duty.
Nor, it seems, did it adequately consider just how devastated that nurse would feel when she realised the result of her action. We may in due course learn there were other factors that contributed to Indian-born Jacintha Saldanha’s fragile mental state. But at the moment it seems likely that her background and culture meant she couldn’t forgive herself for having brought shame on herself, her family and her employers.
John Lofthouse, the hospital’s chief executive, has said she was not disciplined or criticised and that ‘the hospital had been supporting her throughout this difficult time’.
However, her family are entitled to ask precisely what form that support took.
Did any senior official reassure Mrs Saldanha that her job was safe Did any manager have the decency to tell her the fault was not hers but theirs — for failing to recognise that they should have put additional security measures in place
According to MP Keith Vaz, who’s been in close contact with the nurse’s family, her distraught husband and children do not feel the hospital has offered them sufficient support.
The inquiry the hospital is now conducting must establish whether its efforts to reassure her were as plentiful and heartfelt as its efforts to reassure the Royal Family that such a breach of privacy would never occur again.
For the deeply disturbing feeling remains that the welfare of a ‘dedicated and caring’ nurse was not quite as high in managers’ minds as ensuring the continued patronage of its royal patients.
Without doubt, the Royal Family awaits the answers to these questions with interest. Who could blame them if they seriously considered switching hospitals
Not because a nurse put through a hoax call. But because a hospital’s duty of care to dedicated and hard-working staff should always matter more than its public image.
Claim: Cheryl Cole is suing The X Factor in America for 1.4 million
Cole is suing The X Factor in America for 1.4 million. She claims she
was promised 1.25 million for a second season — even if she never
appeared on the series. What intrigues is that she’s claiming a
1,500-a-month living allowance. This is a woman with no dependants, who
barely eats and whose main interest — clothes — is already paid for.
What on earth did she think she would spend it on
I’m fascinated by Bruce Forsyth’s claim that the finger-wiggling exercises he does every morning have kept arthritis at bay.
Perhaps it’s time we all did the same. Finger yoga — the next big thing
Seven out of ten major bus companies are to give free travel to the unemployed. But their chances of finding work would be improved still further if we took a tip from Germany, where job centres are offering free exercise classes and gym membership to the older and long-term unemployed (plus prizes to those who exercise most).
Getting fitter means you feel better — and look better, too.
All we really need is a lot more TLC
Labour MP Ann Clwyd’s account in Saturday’s Mail of her husband’s death in an NHS hospital was heartbreaking.
She described the ‘indifference, contempt and callousness’ with which he was treated, and said she was so angry after he died that she wanted to burn the hospital down.
Novelist Hilary Mantel’s description of accompanying a physically disabled friend on her search for a residential home is equally chilling — and terrifying.
She said that behind the ‘august frontages’, these grand Edwardian houses ‘degenerate’ into tiny passages where residents find themselves gazing not at the coastal views shown in the brochure but at bleak walls.
She added that residents can expect to be either bullied or babied.
Staff in hospitals and homes protest that they need more resources. But what people need most of all is more care — and that costs nothing.
As Hilary Mantel says: ‘All the money in the world cannot remedy failures of imagination.’
How shaming that in 2012, Britain is still not a country in which to be old or disabled.
Pike will hook him
Happy: Rosamund Pike says it feels 'infinitely more right' to have had a baby without being married
Rosamund Pike, who has an eight-month-old baby with her boyfriend (a twice-married man who has four other children), says it feels ‘infinitely more right’ to have had a baby without being married.
But now that the actress has satisfied the urge to reproduce, she’s likely to find herself in the grip of another age-old female urge — the longing for public commitment from your children’s father.
So I predict it won’t be long before being unmarried begins to feel ‘infinitely’ more wrong.
The only thing worse than the chore of writing Christmas cards is the disappointment of not receiving them in return.
But by raising the cost of stamps to 50p for second class, not to mention 60p for first class, the Royal Mail is well on the way to killing off one of our loveliest festive traditions. The new seasonal discount on stamps for those who receive pension credit and those on some benefits (36p and 46p respectively, with a limit of 36 per person) should be made available to everyone. After all, a card isn’t for life — it’s just for Christmas.
Hillary’s White House look
After months of wearing no make-up
and appearing with her hair scraped back into a matronly bun, Hillary
Clinton, looked almost girlish on her recent visit to Belfast.
She’s 69 but, with her long blonde hair flowing freely over her
shoulders, could easily have passed for 49. Forget all her talk about
retiring after she stands down as U.S. Secretary of State next month.
Her hair reveals that Hillary’s got her mojo back. Anyway, I doubt the
novelty of gentle domesticity with husband Bill is going to prove a
sufficient distraction. If she’s not America’s first woman president in
four years’ time, I’ll be very surprised.
Research for a skincare company shows most women agree that to age gracefully, you need to ditch false eyelashes, fake tan, miniskirts and glitter.
They didn’t mention the best trick of all.
Simply add five years to your real age — and then adopt a look of suitably modest surprise as everyone tells you that you look so much younger.