View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Prank phonecall

I want to write a few lines about the on-going controversy about the prank phonecall, perpetrated by Australian radiostation 2day a few days ago. Two presenters rang the King Edward VII Hospital in London where the Duchess of Cambridge was a patient. They pretended to be the Queen, and a nurse on duty answered questions on the Duchess's condition. This was against protocol and procedure; apparently, when a senior royal is in hospital, a policeman will answer such calls. It was reported yesterday that the nurse who answered the call took her own life.

A serious backlash is underway against the radiostation in Sydney, with advertising having been withdrawn by major Australian companies. I am disgusted by the prank phonecall, but do not feel that this was intended to cause someone actual harm. I think that the nurse knew she had made a serious mistake, and was unable to cope with that. Even though Prince William and his father Prince Charles went out of their way to show that they did not take this too seriously.

When someone makes a mistake when working with patients in hospital, they are usually spoken to by their line manager to ascertain the course of events and to ensure that the error will not occur again. It is not so much laying blame as learning lessons.

Just as I am closing this post, I read that the two DJs involved have been offered counselling over this event. I don't know if such was also offered to the unfortunate nurse in the aftermath of the prank phonecall.