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24 Hours in A&E - Series 7 TX: 18 Dec 2014, Week 51

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Channel 4’s RTS award-winning documentary series, 24 Hours in A&E, starts a new eight-part series at a new hospital. After six series and seventy episodes at King’s College Hospital in south London, the new series is filmed at St George’s Hospital in south west London, whose A&E department is one of the most advanced and busiest in the world.

Episode 8 - Thursday 18 December, 9pm, Channel 4

This episode, the last in this series, focuses on the bonds between patients and their families, as well as those between the staff in the A&E department.

Consultant Jai tries to pass on his compassion for patients to his team. “I treat all of my patients as I would treat one of my own,” he says. “I would give them the same amount of care which I would offer to any of my own family.”

Junior doctor Sobi is working with Jai today. “Jai is incredibly calm and very patient, he is a good teacher,” she says. “I guess that filters through when you’re working together because it means that things go a lot smoother.”

65-year-old retired builder Roger has fallen four metres from his daughter’s roof while doing some building work for her. The trauma team is concerned that he may have badly injured his head, back and neck in the accident.

Roger’s daughter Lisa heard him fall from her roof ‘like a sack of potatoes’. “The guilt kicks in, thinking he was on my roof,” she says. “You start asking yourself all those questions: ‘What if, what if?’.”

His wife Ellen waits as Roger is taken for a CT scan to find out how badly he’s been hurt. She talks about how Roger has always been a support for her, particularly recently when she lost four sisters.

“He has a sensitive side, very caring; he is always there for me. He used to be harder a bit fiery. He used to lose his temper if things didn’t go right,” says Ellen. “I seem to hold my emotions in quite a bit, I suppose I have been through too many emotional things in life, I hold them back.”

29-year-old folk musician Tad has come to A&E after developing a dangerously high heart rate. Left untreated it could be very serious and possibly lead to a stroke. Tad has experienced the condition before and knows what to expect. “The best way to describe it would be a rumbling, if you can imagine a train running around your chest,” he says.

Tad’s been treated at St George’s before and is very appreciative of the staff. The doctors try various treatments to get his heart rate back to normal, but ultimately they have to use an electric shock to try to steady the heart.

Tad talks about his choice of music as a career. “I’ve never been one to follow the flock. Everyone in my immediate family has chosen a career that has absolutely nothing to do with anyone in the family. I’ve taken the same attitude and this is me, this is my pot and I will fit it with whatever I want.”

Meanwhile, 69-year-old Richard is brought to A&E after being found unwell at home by his son, Lee. Doctors are concerned that Richard has developed a very serious infection, possibly sepsis, and treat him with antibiotics.

As doctors try to get Richard’s infection under control, Lee discusses his close bond with his dad and remembers exciting times together when he was growing up. “He was my ‘mad dad’, he used to do things with me my mum would tell him off for. He used to take me to Putney Heath with my air rifle and we used to shoot red bull cans and balloons,” he says.

“He’s my hero, he is my dad. You don’t expect your heroes to get weak,” says Lee. “I’d just to say to my dad, ‘If I could be half the dad you were to me, I’d be a proud man’.”

Episode 7 - Thursday 11 December, 9pm, Channel 4

This programme focuses on the important links we have to our immediate family and the qualities that we inherit from our parents.

Seven-year-old Freddie is brought to A&E after falling several metres from a tree in his garden. He’s been in and out of consciousness and vomiting, doctors are concerned he could have head or spinal injuries and rush him to the CT scanner.

“There are things that are red flags,” says consultant Sunil. “If we hear those things it makes us put our foot down and just get things done because we know there’s something potentially serious going on.”

Freddie’s mum and dad are by his bedside. “We just knew something awful had happened,” says mum Susie. “Freddie was throwing up, he wasn’t clutching my hand, his eyes were rolling in the back of his head, he looked pretty vacant.”

Dad Sam knew things were serious. “They had the blocks on him, they were putting the torches in his eyes and I could tell by the nurse’s reaction it didn’t look good,” he says.

Sam talks about how a close friend’s death when he was growing up made him very risk averse, but how Freddie is quite the opposite. “Freddie’s adventurous. He sees a tree, he’ll climb it. He’s got no fear at all,” he says. “He’s got a lot more bottle than I have!”

66-year-old Martin is brought in after collapsing at home and spending the night on the floor. He’s suffering from poor eyesight and dizzininess. The stroke team diagnose a blood clot, but because of the amount of time since his collapse, clot-busting drugs will have little effect.

As the severity of the situation becomes clear Marieke talks about her close bond with her dad. “When I was a kid dad was always very involved, he was very proud of us. I used to swim and he was my biggest fan, you’d hear him over everyone else, screaming for you. I always felt he was there,” she says. “Seeing him like that in hospital I felt really sad for him.”

Meanwhile eight-year-old Jayden has come to St George’s with his mum Altina with swollen eyes, the result of severe hay fever. While he’s being treated, Altina talks about bringing him up on her own and how Jayden thinks she should have another man in her life.

“My eight-year-old is telling me I need to get married,” says Altina. “I would like to find someone and settle down, if the right person comes along.” For the time being Jayden is proud to be the man of the house.

Episode 6 - Thursday 4 December, 9pm, Channel 4

The RTS award-winning documentary series continues from its new home, St George’s in south west London, which has one of Britain’s most advanced and busiest A&E departments.

In this episode, St George’s A&E team treat two trauma patients who arrive by helicopter on the hospital’s recently opened helipad.

75-year-old Eric has fallen four metres from a ladder while cutting trees in his garden in the rain. He landed on his side, walked into the house and collapsed.

The trauma team stabilise Eric and put him in an induced coma as they get a CT scan to discover his internal injuries. Margaret, Eric’s wife of fifty years arrives with their sons and grandson to be with him.

“I kept telling myself ‘everything will be OK’,” says Margaret. “I knew I couldn’t start getting too bad because then they’d all start crying so I had to sort of keep myself composed.”

Eric’s a shoemaker who’s even made riding boots for the Queen. “That’s as high as you can go,” says a proud Margaret.

29-year-old IT consultant Mihhail is airlifted to St George’s after crashing his motorcycle into a bollard at high speed. He’s taken straight for a CT scan to look for hidden injuries.

Doctors are concerned that he has very serious internal injuries, including a laceration to his liver and order a code red, an emergency blood transfusion due to the level of internal blood loss. He’s transferred to the Intensive Care Unit while specialists decide how to repair the damage to his liver and how best to stop his internal bleeding.

Mihhail’s girlfriend Joanne arrives to be with him. They met through her father, who’s also a biker. She explains why that day felt different from the start. “That was the only day I didn’t say to him ‘ride safe’,” says Joanne. “If I’d said it I think he would have been OK.”

Meanwhile, 22-year-old performing arts student Maria is complaining of chest pains. She has a complicated condition meaning that she suffers from pain every day, affecting her sleep and mobility. “For someone as active as I am, with so many dreams and aspirations, it’s very hard to suddenly find that your body’s a prison,” she says.

And 82-year-old Rusty has been hit by a car while crossing the road to deliver a newspaper to a friend and has a badly broken ankle. Consultant Will is treating the self-confessed life-long lady’s man.

“There’s never been any deliberate pattern to my life, it’s all happened by sheer coincidence,” says Rusty. “I am so determined to get well, to move ahead. Who knows what ‘ahead’ is. I’m not going to close shop, not yet!”

Episode 5 - Thursday 27 November, 9pm, Channel 4

The RTS award-winning documentary series continues from its new home, St George’s in south west London, which has one of the most advanced and busiest A&E departments in the UK. In this episode, the team at St George’s treat patients who’ve injured themselves through work or play.

60-year-old Iain is rushed in by ambulance after falling ten feet off a ladder onto his head while fixing an air-conditioning unit at work. He has a deep laceration above his right eye and can’t see through it. Doctors can’t guarantee that he won’t lose sight in his eye.

Consultant James is leading Iain’s treatment. “Bad eye injuries are surprisingly rare,” says James. “The eye is quite protected. If you get hit by something flat, your eye is spared.”

While the trauma team fights to save the sight in Iain’s eye with the help of the hospital’s opthamologists, Iain’s wife Loraine and daughter Leanne wait nervously by his side.

Loraine discusses their special bond. “He’s my soul mate as well as my husband and my best friend,” says Loraine “We’re always together. When we go to bed in the evening we always go up the stairs together.”

20-year-old student teacher Lloyd is helped into A&E by his friend Mollie after injuring his foot on an inflatable obstacle course on their last day at university. Medics fear that swelling is stopping blood circulating in Lloyd’s foot, which could be serious and may need surgery. Luckily Mollie is by Lloyd’s side supporting him as she has done through other tough times at college.

Meanwhile, 13-year-old Lucy has fallen off the trampoline in her family’s garden, getting trapped in the springs and hitting her head on the ground. When dad Tim got to her she was losing the feeling in her feet and hands. Doctors are worried that she may have a neck injury.

Episode 4 - Thursday 20 November, 9pm, Channel 4

In this week’s episode those providing the bedside support take centre stage as a girlfriend, a wife and a daughter keep spirits high in difficult times.

First up is 22-year-old Paul who’s been stabbed in the face and arm with a broken bottle outside a pub in Kingston. The former boxer is rushed into A&E accompanied by his girlfriend Naveena.

Staff at St George’s are used to dealing with stabbings and team leader Daryl explains what they’re looking out for. “The main concerns are going to be scarring, loss of vision if they’ve done something to their eye,” he says. “Someone could die from a facial stabbing: your spinal cord runs right down the back of your neck, the base of your skull and your brain.”

As the medical team works to stop the bleeding and treat Paul’s wounds, his girlfriend reflects on his sensitive side. “Paul is very good in situations that I’m not so good in,” says Naveena. “Violent things or things where he knows that something wrong’s happening. He’s always very protective, nothing ever goes wrong.”

70-year-old John arrives with his wife Francesca after falling awkwardly while out running and painfully dislocating his shoulder. To get John’s pain under control quickly the medical team give him Ketamine and the side effects keep Francesca and the staff entertained as they prepare to relocate his shoulder.

While doctors notice a loss of sensation in John’s arm and treat him for potential nerve damage, his wife Francesca talks about how they met and their life together.

“When I met him he used to rally a little Mini,” she says. “I said to mum ‘Oh, he’s a really nice guy. He’s just such a nice chap. But John was going out with somebody, which I didn’t know. And she was his navigator. So I suspect he might have asked me out before he told her!”

Meanwhile 93-year-old Angela is brought to A&E by her daughter Elizabeth after suffering from blood loss and disorientation at her care home. While doctors investigate what is causing Angela’s symptoms, Elizabeth keeps her company and shares happy memories of growing up.

“We were all born very close together. Three daughters with a really lovely mum,” she says. “We used to fight over sitting on her lap. You might find her sitting at the breakfast table with all three children sort of hanging from her just wanting to be around her.”

Episode 3 - Thursday 13 November, 9pm, Channel 4

38-year-old tree surgeon, Paul is rushed into Resus by ambulance from Kent after falling 25 feet from a tree when his harness failed, hitting his head on a concrete pole as he landed. Paul has a head wound and is complaining of shooting pains in his back as well as pins and needles in his feet.

Doctors are immediately concerned that he may have injured his spine. “When somebody falls you worry about the head, then you worry about spinal injuries. When the patient comes in if they’re complaining of pins and needles my heart always sinks,” says orthopaedic doctor Mike. “It could be a sign that there is trauma to the spinal cord which can cause paralysis.”

A CT scan shows that Paul has broken a vertebra in his back and medics are concerned fragments of bone could damage his spinal cord.

Paul’s wife Emma realised things were serious when she was told Paul had been taken to St George’s rather than their local hospital. “You think ‘What if he doesn’t walk again?’,” she says. “It’s horrible to see somebody that you look upon as big and strong and seeing them just going insane with the amount of pain they’re in. I just felt pretty helpless, but all I could do was hold his hand.”

Meanwhile 66-year-old Anthony, who has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Prostate cancer, has fallen down fifteen stairs at home. He is very frail and a scan reveals that Anthony has broken some ribs, puncturing a lung and will need a chest drain.

His wife Jennifer waits and reflects on how the couple met through a dating agency in 1975. “We met up in London somewhere. And he had this funny tweed coat with a belt round the middle and I thought ‘I don’t like that!’,” says Jennifer. “I don’t know what happened to the coat, but he’s lovely. He’s my soul mate.”

Episode 2 - Thursday 6 November, 9pm, Channel 4

19-year-old Billy has been thrown twenty feet from his motocross bike during a race, suffering multiple spinal injuries and he’s lost sensation from the chest down. He’s been transferred from a hospital in Brighton to St George’s for treatment by the specialist neurosurgical team.

“Whenever we have a potential spinal injury patient coming in, you realise that’s a real time-critical injury,” says consultant Will. “If they have paralysis, we have to diagnose why they have it and see if there’s something that we can reverse. But unfortunately, with spinal injuries there is a higher possibility that this won’t get better.’

Billy’s parents and brothers witnessed his crash and are by his bedside, braced for the worst. “I’ve got three boys, they love fast sports. I didn’t discourage them from doing what they wanted to do. The main thing I didn’t want my boys to do was to ride a motorbike out on the road, “says Billy’s dad, Brad. “I just didn’t believe it, it’s as if they’re talking about someone else. You don’t ever expect it to happen, not to yours.”

Meanwhile 53-year-old teacher Dave has facial injuries after riding his new bicycle into the back of a stationary car in Richmond Park. His wife Kate received a phone call shortly after the accident.

“It was his friend Bugsy, who he’d been cycling with. He said ‘There’s been an accident, he’s come off the bike and an ambulance is on its way’,” says Kate. “It was when he said ‘He’s lost part of his face and we’ve got it on ice’, that scared me a lot.”

The crash is a wake up call for Dave. “What dawns on you is that you’ve absolutely no control over the situation at all,” he says. “That makes you a little more philosophical and it makes you realise you are quite vulnerable really. I should take life a little more easy, maybe I’ll go back to golf and fishing!”

And 30-year-old adrenaline junkie and ex-Royal Marine Richard has badly dislocated his thumb after falling off a bicycle. As the emergency team try to realign the tip of his thumb, Richard enjoys the effects of the pain-killing gas and air while reflecting on his time in the marines and the evolutionary benefits of risk.

Consultant Will talks about how risks are part of normal life. “There are calculated risks that we take. Most of the time you get away with it, you learn from it,” he says. “But every so often when you challenge yourself, you fall short.”

Episode 1 - Thursday 30 October, 9pm, Channel 4

In the first episode of the new series, St George’s trauma team fight to save the life of a young woman after a horrific motorbike accident.

29-year-old dental nurse Kerry arrives from Essex by emergency air ambulance on the hospital’s new helipad as a ‘code red’ patient. She was riding her motorbike when she lost control and crashed, completely severing her right leg below the knee.

Kerry’s grandparents, Dennis and Angie, received a phone call about the accident and were among the first people on the scene. “We got there and saw Kerry laying in the ditch,” says Dennis. “I see these two fellas running up and down the road. They didn’t know who I was and I said ‘Excuse me, what are you looking for?’ and he said ‘We’re looking for the young girl’s leg’.”

Due to the severity of her injuries, specialists from seven different departments have been called in to treat Kerry. Trauma consultant Jai is in charge. “When you say ‘code red’, you get a patient who’s lost a lot of blood and they are critically unwell,” he says. “If you cut off your lower limb, the worst thing that can happen is that they can lose the whole volume of blood and as a result your heart goes into cardiac arrest.”

But the medics need to stabilise Kerry before they can send her for a CT scan to see if it’s possible to re-attach her leg. “Time is very critical when we are considering re-attachment of the leg,” says consultant Jai. “But the first priority is always life. Limb comes second after life.”

Kerry’s grandparents have always been worried sick about her getting a motorbike. “We literally begged her not to, but Kerry desperately wanted a motorbike, so she went out and got one,” says Dennis. “Our heart was in our mouth every time she went out on that bike until I heard that motorbike come back here.”

Meanwhile 11-year-old Luke is brought into the department after suffering a prolonged epileptic seizure. Luke has a form of complex epilepsy that has left him with severe learning difficulties. He has up to three seizures a week.

While the paediatric team stabilises Luke, his mum and dad discuss their love for him and the challenges of living with Luke’s condition.

“Do I resent my son’s illness? No, absolutely not. Do I become jealous of parents who have ‘normal’ children? Without a doubt,” says Luke’s dad, Jack. “You’re different from other people, that’s the way it’s going to be, it’ll probably be that way for the rest of your life…it’s not even clear if he’s going to outlast me or I’m going to outlast him.”

But there are pluses too. “We went through such a horrific time when he was little, but you come out the other end and you realise ‘OK, this is different than what I was expecting, but actually not awful, it’s actually very valuable and very positive’,” says Luke’s mum, Catherine. “He’s such a delight, he’s so positive, he’s so much fun, he’s got a healthy stubbornness about himself – we’d like to wrap him in cotton wool and he refuses to let us do that.”

And 19-year-old Tina comes to A&E after stepping on a sewing needle which is stuck inside her foot. But she seems more keen on taking advice from her mum in Bulgaria than from Mo, the doctor treating her.

Series Producers/Directors: John Douglas, Dominique Foster
Executive Producers: Hamo Forsyth, Jonathan Smith
Production Company: The Garden Productions

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24 HOURS IN A&E
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