I don't normally do this type of post but I'm making an exception here as I feel so strongly about it.
As we must all know by now, following a "prank" phone call from Australian radio station 2Day FM, the nurse who first received the call has been found dead in her hospital apartment.
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The public outcry and demonization of the DJ's concerned is something which sadly doesn't surprize me but it really just adds further misery to the overall awfulness of the situation. The people to blame, in my opinion, are the programme editors, the legal team and those who TOOK the decision to air that call (which was pre-recorded) without gaining the hospital's consent. They are now saying they tried to contact the hospital unsuccessfully, the hospital have released a statement saying NO ONE spoke to anyone in their administration or legal departments. So it seems clear that consent was not gained as it should be. However, that is not what concerns me for this article...
I am just fed up with the endless amounts of air-time given over to the radio station concerned, the two DJ's concerned, and to navel-gazing and hypocrisy of the British media who are universally saying "We would NEVER do such a thing" - how ironic that Lord Leveson himself was in Australia when this terrible event occurred.
This, however, is a tribute to Jess Saldanha, a woman who nursed me on several occasions when I was in hospital. Her daughter, Lisha, posted a small status update on Facebook last week stating how devastated the family were and thanking people for their support - how much media coverage did that get? A little, but nowhere near the amount of coverage given to the radio station itself.
Jacintha Saldanha was more commonly known as "Jess" and had worked at the King Edward VII (Sister Agnes) Hospital for around four years. She came from Sorkala, near the town of Shirva in the south-west state of Karnataka but moved with her husband Ben Bardoza and two children, Junal and Lisha, about 9 years ago to Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol.
Jess, who was 46, originally worked for the North Bristol NHS Trust for several years before applying for and gaining a job at the King Edward VII (Sister Agnes) Hospital in London where she lived during the week in hospital-provided accommodation. Her son, Junal, is 16 and her daughter, Lisha, is just 14. It was Lisha who posted the Facebook message last week and it read simply "I miss you. I loveee you". Her husband, Ben, who is 49, posted a message and invited others to contribute to a simple obituary page :
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It is perhaps easy for people to say that there must, clearly, have been many other problems in Jess's life to make her take such drastic action and suicide is never the result of one thing alone. However, perhaps we should also bear in mind Naveen, her brother's, words when he said "She would have felt much shame about the incident" and remember that not everyone can throw difficulties off as easily as we might do.
Her mother-in-law, Carmine Barboza, said
"Jacintha was a very caring woman. She used to call us every Sunday without fail. We just cannot believe what has happened."I can only speak of the woman I knew and I just wanted to say that when I was nursed by Jess, I found her to be a caring, kind and extremely diligent nurse who took her responsibilities extraordinarily seriously. She always appeared to have just that little bit of extra time to spend with you even though I'm perfectly sure she was in reality very busy. She never rushed anything, always approached things with great care and somehow gave off an air of reassurance to me which always made me feel as though I were in safe hands. She had a quietly understated way with her which illustrated a deep personal commitment to her job and to her patients.
In our weird, media-driven culture, I think it's sometimes very easy to forget that there are real people sitting at the end of a telephone line or a computer screen. How many times have you seen someone say something quite dreadful on Twitter to another user, something which I very much doubt they'd EVER say in real life? I know I have seen this on countless occasions. I've always held the belief that you should interact online just as you would in real life, try to bear in mind that you have no idea of the circumstances of the person at the other end of the computer screen and try to hold yourself to the same standards you set for yourself as you go about your everyday non-virtual life.
I watched the two DJ's being interviewed this morning and it made for painful viewing as I honestly don't believe they are the one's to blame in all of this. If anyone is to blame, it is the programme editors, the programme controllers and the legal team of the radio station concerned. The two young DJ's are not household names, they do not possess a great "say" in what gets broadcast and what doesn't, unlike some of the better known DJ's who make these prank calls. They are broadcasting an overnight programme in Australia and, before last week, I doubt many of us had ever heard of them. Yes, it was a very stupid prank, yes, they may well be moronic idiots for all I know, but NO, this is not their fault. And the endless hateful messages directed towards them on multiple social networking sites are totally inappropriate in my opinion, and deeply offensive.
Jess Saldanha was one of the most caring and considerate nurse's I have ever been treated by and I'm perfectly sure she would not be supporting the witch-hunt against the two individuals. There has been one tragedy and that tragedy has affected Jess's family more than anyone else of course, but it has rippled across the world a kind of tectonic plate of a shudder.
Maybe we should ALL stop to think at times, about what we are doing in our lives and with our lives. Maybe we should pause to wonder if that little, snipey comment we made to someone at work, was necessary or reasonable. Just maybe, we should stop encouraging the media to push more and more boundaries for the sake or our "entertainment" - after all, if we all just switched off, they would change the way they produce programmes.
These big companies and broadcasters aren't interested really in what's right or wrong, I should think the election coverage would have taught us that much, they are interested in viewing figures, or readers, or the proverbial bums on seats - not what's right or wrong about something. That's OUR job. And we should do it.
Ben Barboza has said that she will be laid to rest in Shirva, India.
RiP Jess, I will miss your gentleness very much.