This week the RTS award-winning 24 Hours in A&E focuses on a young girl seriously injured after she’s run over by a bus, as well as other pedestrians who’ve ended up as patients at King’s College Hospital in south London.
12-year-old Jade from Kent is rushed twenty miles to King’s after being hit by a car and knocked under a bus while walking to school. Her shocked mum Amanda travels with her in the ambulance, alongside a police officer.
Doctors are concerned that Jade may have fractured her skull and could have internal injuries, so she needs an emergency CT scan to determine the extent of her injuries.
“My biggest concern as Jade was getting older and going to school on her own was her getting run over...and it happened,” says Amanda. “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare what I lived that morning, getting that call…it was the worst call I could have ever had. I still hear it now.”
Trauma consultant Des and a specialist paediatric team are on hand to deal with Jade’s injuries. “Paediatric trauma is difficult, it’s very emotive,” says Des. “Nobody likes to see kids in distress or injured or unwell...people just want to be useful, they want to help.”
The staff are obviously conscious it’s hardest for the parents. “As parents the hardest thing has got to be the uncertainty, the not knowing, the feeling you’re not being told everything,” says Des. “The feeling that people are putting a brave face on it, because we automatically assume that things are going to be awful.”
Just a few hours later, Des is presented with his second road traffic victim of the day. 60-year-old Geraldine was on her way home from a shopping trip when she was knocked over by a car while trying to cross the road.
“In a department like King’s we see so much trauma every day that you’ll be almost guaranteed to have one or two pedestrians hit by a car,” says Des. “It’s not that it’s predictable, but it’s almost what you expect.”
Meanwhile in minors, 40-year-old Brian has broken his ankle after falling while running for a bus. He’s recently been released from prison and his electronic curfew tag is attached to his injured leg. His increasingly swollen ankle means it will have to be cut off.
And 6-year-old Linus has come in with his mum Polly after claiming to have swallowed a toy ring he was playing with at school. And much to his mum’s surprise, she finds out this isn’t the first time he’s consumed small metal objects.
The RTS award-winning series, filmed round-the-clock at King’s College Hospital in south London, continues with an episode looking at a busy Saturday night in the A&E Department where staff have to juggle the needs of elderly patients and sick children alongside patients who are drunk or violent.
Dr Fleur, who’s six months pregnant, is the lead trauma consultant working with senior sister Jen during a hectic night shift in Resus. The department’s full and some patients can be challenging. “When we get people in that are aggressive, I always make sure that I tell them to have a bit of respect,” says senior sister Jen. “Not only for myself and my colleagues, but also for the other patients and relatives that are in the department at the same time.”
12-year-old Grace has fallen down a flight of stairs and has potentially serious spine and neck injuries. She’s brought into Resus by paramedics with her mum Michelle and needs to have a CT scan to assess the extent of the damage.
“The bond that you have with your own child you don’t have to think about it, it’s just an instant reaction to their needs,” says Michelle. “That’s your child and you will do anything in your power to protect her.”
Parents Sarah and Andy have brought in their 10-month-old son Dexter who’s been vomiting and has a high temperature and is unresponsive. “A&E is probably a very daunting environment for parents to bring their children to, particularly on a Saturday night where it’s very busy and there’s a lot going on you may not want your child to be exposed to,” says Dr Fleur. “If you bring your child into that environment, you must be very worried.”
Later, 88-year-old Irene is brought in by ambulance after suffering with chest pains through the night. As she reflects about growing up in London during the war, her son Stuart faces up to the fact that his own role in the family is changing. “Makes you realise that your parents are getting older and need more care and attention than they did,” says Stuart. “You always get used to them just being there and being someone that you can call on – all of a sudden that’s not possible anymore. It happens to us all in the end, you get a view of mortality, don’t you.”
Meanwhile clinical site manager Gordon has worked at Kings’ for fourteen years. He’s in charge of the day-to-day running of hospital resources, including the hospital beds. When senior sister Jen notices that he has a blood-shot eye she suggests he gets his blood pressure checked. Further tests reveal news that changes Gordon’s life.
The RTS award-winning series, filmed round-the-clock at King’s College Hospital in south London, continues with a moving episode looking at the start and end of life, as well as the joys and fears of living alone.
75-year-old Graham is brought in to A&E having been the victim of a random attack - he’s been stabbed in the neck with a pair of scissors by a stranger on his doorstep. Graham is also vulnerable because he suffers from schizophrenia.
“I remember when he came in because it was such a shocking story and you feel the human response to that,” says consultant Emer. “He did seem very alone and very vulnerable. One of the things you realize after doing this for a few years is how many people are alone out there, how many people don’t have the comfort of friends and family.”
Graham needs a CT scan to reveal the extent of his wound. But even though he may recover physically, the circumstances in which he lives continue to cause him concern. “Since the stabbing I don’t feel safe at all. I want to get a new place in a quieter area,” he says. It’s something that consultant Emer is aware they can do little about. “We can treat what’s brought them in that day,” she says. “But we can’t change their lives.”
Meanwhile 89-year-old Pat, a former nursery nurse, arrives having been found at the bottom of her stairs with no recollection of how she got there. Unlike Graham, Pat isn’t alone, her neighbour and close friend Angie has come with her to King’s in the ambulance.
Pat is a strong, independent character who’s adamant that having been single her whole life has meant she’s known genuine happiness and contentment; the freedom to explore the world in her own way without the limitations that relationships can place on you. “I’ve had a very interesting life, only because I’m single,” says Pat.
Meanwhile, mum of five Cheryl has brought her four-year-old son Dylan into King’s as he’s struggling to breathe. It’s a bad attack of Croup, a virus that affects the airway, and he needs treatment and monitoring.
It’s just the start of a stressful night for Cheryl, as she soon finds herself having to rush home to fetch her eldest son Saner, who has developed breathing problems of his own. Saner is diagnosed as having a severe asthma attack and is treated in resus, while his younger brother remains in paediatrics. “I had both of them in my head at the same time and it’s like, ‘What one do you stay with?’ It was really hard,” says Cheryl.
Michael is a 72-year-old retired postman, who’s been brought to A&E after a fall. He’s recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and it’s clear that the tumours have already started to spread throughout his body. His quiet dignity in A&E is accompanied by a strangely calm sense of resignation as he, and the staff around, him accept that he is likely to die from his condition.
Palliative care nurse Tracey manages Michael’s treatment and makes sure he’s comfortable. “When I saw him it became quite obvious to me how sick he was,” says Tracey. “I’ve looked after a lot of people who are dying, I’ve seen a lot of people die. I think people often have a perception, like it is in the movies, of someone just falling to sleep and it’s all beautiful. It’s not always like that. I suppose you realise that you can only do so much and if you’ve made a difference, to make somebody die well, it’s been a good day.”
The RTS award-winning series continues with an intense and emotional episode showing the importance of friends and family in times of crisis.
It’s night time at King’s and senior sister Jen has just started her shift. “I’ve been a night owl since the day I was born,” she says. “Even as a kid I never wanted to go to bed. My mum says I used to stand at the top of the stairs and scream.”
Her first case of the night puts all her skills to the test. A young man has had a severe reaction to the recreational drug GBL. As he’s wheeled into Resus by paramedics, accompanied by police, his limbs are flailing and he’s spitting at the staff. “Drugs have changed a lot,” says Jen. “I used to work in nightclubs. When I first started it was ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine. Then it turned to GBL and GBH. It makes it very, very difficult for everybody because all inhibitions have gone.”
Jen and the medical team face a challenge to calm their patient down so they can treat him. But they can’t solve all the patient’s problems. “There is only so much you can do for some people,” explains Jen. “I give them help, I give them support. But at the end of the day they’ve got to individually sort it out themselves. I can only take them to a point.”
Meanwhile in Majors, three local Camberwell women have been enjoying a very different night out. 65-year-old Christine was playing bingo when she fell off a chair and hit her head. She’s been brought to King’s by her best friends Joan and Jean. As doctors try to discover the cause of Christine’s fall, Jean and Joan try to keep her spirits up, “I know what we’ll get for you Christine,” says Jean, “a crash helmet.”
Between cups of tea, sandwiches and visits from the doctor, the ladies recall growing up in south London, their jobs and their families. Through it all, it’s friendship that’s endured. “Friendship gets more important as you get older,” says Joan. “Friends sometimes are better than family.”
Back in Resus, 31-year-old Mark has been rushed to King’s by his mum Juliana after developing a fever at home. Mark has an aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis and Juliana is his full-time carer. “She’s with him day in, day out,” explains Mark’s sister, Evelyn. “She knows his facial expressions, his reactions to stuff. She knows him through and through. That’s her baby.”
Juliana recalls how Mark, a former fitness instructor, was struck down by the disease when he was only twenty after a blow to the head. Since then it has damaged his speech and his sight. “The last six months, it’s just one thing after another,” says Juliana. “I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
The medical team stabilise Mark, but as the night draws on his condition deteriorates and he becomes critically ill, with a risk of blood poisoning and organ failure. The medical staff must have some difficult conversations. But while Mark drifts in and out of consciousness, Juliana refuses to give up. “I’m not prepared to lose you. You fight this. Don’t even think about giving up,” she pleads with Mark.
Series Prod/Dirs: Jackie Waldock, John Douglas
Exec Prods: Nick Curwin, Hamo Forsyth, Jonathan Smith
Prod Co: The Garden Productions
This week’s episode of the RTS award-winning 24 Hours in A&E focuses on the different ways that people deal with pain and how the care and support of friends and family can help you get through almost anything.
“I used to think that women were a little bit better at coping with pain than men, but actually I think it’s about the same,” says Sister Jen. “Some women, they’ve been through childbirth and so they have a different perception and realise that some of the worst pain in the world, they’ve actually survived and had a baby through. But there’s other women out there that, one little broken fingernail and they’re screaming like they’ve lost their finger. We’ve always got to remember that pain is what the patient says it is and we need to treat it accordingly.”
23-year-old motorcyclist Richard is rushed into A&E by helicopter, having collided with a parked car at speed. Flung through the air, he hit another car’s bonnet and a lamppost before landing face down on the pavement. He’s one of over 2,500 road traffic accident victims treated by King’s College Hospital, a major trauma centre, every year.
It’s newly-promoted consultant Fleur’s first shift in charge of trauma. She listens intently to Richard’s catalogue of injuries before sending him off to CT to determine the extent of his wounds. It’s a major, thought-provoking case to deal with: “Our job does change some of the decisions that we make in our lives, because of how often we see the things that we see,” says Fleur. “I wouldn’t cycle a bike in London, I wouldn’t let my husband ride a motorbike.”
Richard’s dad Ian rushes in from Surrey, praying that his son is going to be all right. Ian has always worried about his son riding motorbikes, but he did the same when he was younger and feels he would be a hypocrite to object. It’s difficult for him to see his son in such pain. “All he could say was ‘Sorry Dad’,” says Ian.
The scan reveals that Richard has suffered fractures to the sockets and balls of both hips and has damage to his testicles that will need further investigation. Richard’s friends Mike and Jack try to cheer him up and can’t help joking about the injury to his testicles. “His balls were the size of a plum – massive!” says Jack.
But an ultrasound scan reveals that Richard has actually ruptured one of his testicles and he’ll need surgery to save it, with the result in the balance. It’s a worrying injury for a young man in the prime of life.
22-year-old Bobby is a bar worker from Dublin who moved to London with best friend Sophie. Having had a few drinks with friends after work, Bobby managed to stand, barefoot, on a broken wine bottle, resulting in a deep cut and lots of blood. Knowing how bad Bobby is at dealing with pain, Sophie provides moral support and distracts him while junior doctor Ed stitches his foot up.
Meanwhile 75-year-old Sarah has fallen over in the street, fracturing her wrist. It’s a nasty break and the doctors are also worried about her irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. But Sarah deals with the pain stoically, supported by daughter Lorraine and son Kieron, who’s forced to realise that his mum isn’t as young as she used to be and that their relationship is changing.
“For whatever reason you feel that a parent should look after their children and there comes a point where that changes, because the child becomes an adult. And that’s a little bit uncomfortable,” says Kieron.
Series Prod/Dirs: John Douglas, Jackie Waldock
Exec Prods: Nick Curwin, Hamo Forsyth, Jonathan Smith
Prod Co: The Garden Productions
The RTS award-winning series 24 Hours in A&E continues with an episode where the King’s medical team deal with challenges ranging from a critically-injured dad to an aggravated prisoner.
Staff nurse Graeme has been at King’s for three years after spending time working in Afghanistan with the Territorial Army. “At King’s you always have to be ready for anything,” says Graeme. “You can always assume it’s going to be a busy day. You can never predict what’s going to happen really.”
First off, Graeme is punched and bitten by an aggravated prisoner who’s been brought to Resus for treatment. The team have to restrain their patient before they can give him the care he needs.
Then critically-injured 59-year-old father-of-two Tony is rushed in by helicopter medics. Tony has been badly hurt in a head on road traffic collision while delivering pharmaceuticals. He was trapped in his van and had to be cut free. “People die in car accidents every day,” says consultant Jacqui. “It was high speed, it was a lot of damage from head to toe. There’s a chance that he may not recover.”
Tony’s father Jack, daughter Tracy and wife Trudi wait anxiously while the medical team assess the extent of his injuries. He has a dislocated hip, smashed knee and can’t feel his right leg, plus he has broken ribs and a collapsed lung. It’s clear this is just the start of a long stay in hospital.
It’s difficult for the whole family, but especially for his parents: Tony’s brother Dean died at King’s from a brain haemorrhage when he was 17 and they face the prospect of losing another son at the hospital. “You can’t explain to people how you feel,” says Jack. “You don’t ever expect your children to go before you, so your mind’s never prepared for it.”
Another patient is brought into resus by ambulance under police escort. He’s been arrested after a crash following a high-speed car chase. But just as doctors begin to diagnose him, he leaps out of bed and tries to escape. Medical and security staff scramble to catch and restrain him.
Meanwhile, 85-year-old Eric is in the waiting room with his partner Helen because of ongoing stomach problems. Helen first met Eric in the 1960s, but things didn’t work out and they parted mutually. They met again by chance at a doctor’s surgery almost thirty years later. This time they stayed together. “That was one of the happiest days of my life, fate acting in that way,” says Helen. “We’ve been happy ever since.”
And 79-year-old Jim has been brought in with breathing difficulties. He quickly strikes up a rapport with the female staff and muses on what it means to be a gentleman, how to look after yourself in a fight and the importance of family.
The RTS award-winning series 24 Hours in A&E continues with an episode about the frequency of fall-related injuries as well as problems to do with alcohol.
One in ten of all patients in A&E comes in after a fall. 11-year-old Archie has tripped and fallen up a step at the school library and has badly cut his lip. Archie’s worried about stitches, but he’s also concerned about his rumbling tummy - he hasn’t had his favourite dinner of chicken and chips.
Staff nurse Emily is on duty in Resus: “We get a lot of falls. People climbing trees, people being drunk, falling out of windows…People can fall off anything can’t they? Horses, night-club stages,” says Emily. “So men fall off ladders and women fall off stages, thinking that they’re dancing like Beyoncé.”
Kevin, a 57-year-old tree surgeon, has fallen off a step ladder landing heavily on a sharp metal bar and he’s struggling to breathe. His wife June knows that he will never be a classic ‘sitting in the armchair reading a book’ kind of guy, but it’s hard for her to see him in pain and the doctors are concerned he has punctured his lung.
Alcohol can also be a major issue for A&E. “Everybody thinks that it's the weekend and the night, but actually it's all the time,” says staff nurse Emily.
53-year-old John has fallen down a flight of steps at the hostel in south London where he lives. He has been drinking heavily and has a deep wound on the top of his head. John has hit hard times in recent years, including drugs and living on the streets, but music is still his first love. “My favourite passion is drumming - started off with me mum’s Tupperware and knitting needles,” says John. “I was in a band called The Reducers. Had a single made once ‘Man With A Gun’, John Peel played it a couple of times.”
Meanwhile 31-year-old barman Ross has fallen and smashed his head against a wall. He was leaving a club after an alcohol-fuelled work’s night out. He’s fractured his eye socket and has a possible bleed on his brain. The full extent of the damage won’t be known until Ross sobers up.
Ross’s work colleagues Mark and Adam stay with him all the way through. “Didn’t really want him waking up on his own in A&E thinking ‘Where am I? How did I get here?’,” says Adam. “When you see one of your friends hurt, it’s instantly sobering,” says Mark. “You just go into autopilot.”
The RTS award-winning series 24 Hours in A&E continues with a powerful episode about the challenges of motherhood and the responsibility of raising sons.
35-year-old Sarah has had a blistering headache for the past four days. She’s finally come in to A&E worried that a recurring brain tumour she first had as a teenager has returned. “I've always been told it won't come back and then it has three times,” she says. “My parents put on a brave face. I can see how distraught they were. As a parent, when something goes wrong all you want to do is put yourself in their shoes and take it away from them. I guess as parents they felt very helpless.
“I sort of made a vow to myself then that I would do as much as I could to never let them know how I was feeling,” continues Sarah. “I thought if there was something I could do for them it would be to put on a brave face, put on a smile and just not ever let them see how upset or how scared or how worried I was.”
Sarah’s concerns are even more heightened now that she has a young son of her own. He’s being looked after by her dad – who has never changed a nappy before – while she’s in A&E. “Now that I am a mum, the thought of going through it again whilst I have Elliot is a hundred times more scary.”
47-year-old mum Helen has come in with her 10-month-old son James who has been vomiting since the morning. With two older boys already, Helen decided to have another child and James was conceived after three courses of IVF. The pregnancy was difficult and James was born prematurely with a hole in his heart and one kidney and spent his first thirteen weeks in hospital.
So Helen is worried that it could be something more serious than a stomach bug. “With that history you can imagine I would be very protective,” says Helen. “There was absolutely no way that I was taking any chances with him.”
And Wayne, a 28-year-old glazer, has been stabbed twice in the leg as he tried to stop someone stealing his girlfriend’s mobile phone outside a pub. His mum Joan reflects on her son’s wayward youth and how he has turned his life around for the better. “It doesn’t matter what they’ve done and what you’ve gone through, you’re always going to be protective about them, “ says Joan. “And here’s something happening that you have absolutely no control over.”
The RTS award-winning series 24 Hours in A&E continues with an episode about husbands and wives reflecting on their enduring marriages and the changing nature of love. And the A&E staff talk about the wisdom that comes with experience.
Scott is the senior nurse in charge of a very busy shift in Resus today. All the beds are full, a trauma has just arrived and an air ambulance trauma is on its way. “When you’ve got a full Resus where you’re completely rammed, but something else is coming in, you need to fit that in and you’ve got five minutes to do it,” says Scott, who has worked at King’s for thirteen years. “You’ve really got to fire off a lot of big decisions in a very short period of time.”
56-year-old Pauline has had a fall at home, hitting her head on a table. She smashed her teeth, but the main concern is injury to her spine and neck. Pauline’s proneness to accidents is a constant worry for her husband, John. “She tripped on a manhole and broke her foot,” remembers John. “She ran across the road, tripped and fell onto the pavement and fractured her wrist and broke her elbow…I hold her hand more often now when we go out.“
Soon after, the air ambulance brings in satellite and aerial-fitter David from Sussex. The 62-year-old has fallen 30 feet - head first - from a roof. He has life-threatening injuries to his head, chest and abdomen. His wife Pam is being blue-lighted into London by the police. Finding her husband in a coma on life support certainly puts things into perspective. “We all moan about our partners,” she reflects. “But you don’t realise it until something like this happens.”
And opera critic John and his wife Gudrun are in minors. John injured his leg on a skiing holiday and has pain in his ankle. The couple have been together for 48 years and John admits the longevity of their relationship probably comes down to his wife being in charge. “She probably wears one and a half legs of the trousers,” he says.
Meanwhile former window cleaner Alfred, who still works at the age of 78, has had to come to terms with life without Peggy, his wife of nearly sixty years, who recently died in a nursing home. With his wife suffering from dementia he had to look after both of them when she was at home. “I can cook, sew, iron - all the jobs that a woman can do,” says Alfred. “The times that I’ve heard somebody say ‘I wish I had you for a husband’. I said ‘You can’t have me, I’m spoken for!’.”
The RTS award-winning series 24 Hours in A&E continues with a touching episode about the responsibility of caring for elderly relatives as well as reflecting on the full, and often colourful, lives that they have led.
94-year-old Douglas is a highly decorated Second World War veteran who served in an elite commando unit. He’s been brought in to A&E by his youngest daughter Sylvie because his breathing has deteriorated. Sylvie, who’s an amputee herself, has been his full-time carer for the last twenty years.
Douglas has four children, seventeen grandchildren, nineteen great grandchildren and a cheeky sense of humour. “He’d do silly things,” says Sylvie. “We couldn’t go on holiday, we didn’t have the money for that, so he’d take us on a long bus ride and we’d literally be going round in circles. But we really thought we’d been on a good trip!”
Sylvie’s sister agrees: “Dad’s a very brave man and, as they get older, they go to the garden party at Buckingham Palace. He had a good old conversation with the Princess Royal when he went and I just think to myself ‘Oh gosh, I hope he didn’t tell her any jokes!’.”
Laura, the nurse in charge of Resus today, is looking after Douglas as well as another nonagenarian, Hector. The 97-year-old has been brought in by ambulance with life-threatening problems - his airway is in danger of collapsing and his blood pressure is dangerously high.
Hector is on his own and keeps asking for his grandson, Glen – his only living relative. “He reckons that the key to long life was to live a decent life and make sure you eat your porridge,” says Glen. “If my sons are half the man he was I’d still be happy.”
Meanwhile 69-year-old Steve has fallen off a chair and fractured his shoulder. He worked as a plumber until four years ago, when he was hit by a motorbike while crossing the road. “The accident took everything away from him. He’s only a shell of the man he used to be. On top of that he’s got dementia,” says his partner Una. But she still remembers the good times. “He used to dress really well, he stood out. He was a right old charmer – charm the birds off the trees, he would.”
Nurse Laura takes just as much care of patients at the end of life as she does those at the beginning. “There is a massive spectrum in the way you can die. It can be very peaceful and comfortable. I think that’s the nicest way you can go - and that’s very difficult to recreate in an A&E department.”
The RTS award-winning series 24 Hours in A&E continues with an episode about how men deal with pain – whether it’s from injury or a broken heart. From fractures, breaks and dislocations to chronic pain and a broken heart, the staff at King’s reflect on the different ways in which people deal with physical and emotional pain.
28-year-old Ahmed has dislocated his shoulder in a game of American football and has to grit his teeth while doctor Matt puts it back into place. The relief is immediate and Ahmed leaves A&E with a smile on his face. “It’s like scoring a goal when you manage to get a shoulder back in,” says Matt. “Or winning £10 on the lottery.”
But it’s not so straightforward to offer such simple cures to people with long-term illnesses. 24-year-old Lee suffers from Behçet’s Syndrome, a condition that affects the nervous system and causes pain so severe he passes out. He’s had the disorder for six years and this is his third admission for chronic pain in the past two months alone.
“When I wake up in the morning, the first thing that hits me is pain…and the last thing I remember at night is the pain before I go to sleep,” he says. “When I was just about to turn twenty, I just thought that I was a burden to everyone. I just felt worthless.”
But fiancée Meghan is by Lee’s side, looking after him. She’s the person who keeps him going. “Without her I don’t think I’d be here right now,” says Lee.
Not all A&E patients are in such serious pain or deal with it so philosophically. “Men, in general, handle pain less well than the women,” says registrar Chris. “I don’t know if that’s because we get mothered by our mums as little boys, whereas girls are left to get on with it.”
Meanwhile 30-year-old dad of four Simon is brought in by ambulance after being found unconscious at the bottom of a stairwell. It soon emerges that his partner of ten years has ended their relationship and he’s not eaten for days.
Nurse Abbie is looking after Simon. “It was a broken heart that led him to get a physical injury,” she says. “For a male to come in and stop eating and be unwell over a woman, I can’t say I’ve seen that a lot.”
The RTS award-winning series 24 Hours in A&E continues with a touching episode about people living on their own and reaching out to others.
32-year-old scaffolder Thomas has been struck on the back of the head by a six metre tube at a building site in South London. He lost consciousness and was convulsing at the scene. Doctors are concerned he may have fractured his skull, spine or neck.
Thomas is on his own in A&E, but his dad is due to visit later in the day. “My dad just thinks he’s dropping off a toothbrush,” says Thomas. “He doesn’t realise that I’m grateful to have my dad there…there’s a lot of people in this world who haven’t got anything or anyone.”
Hilton has diabetes and is worried about his swollen legs. At 85, he lives on his own and looks after himself, but he’s come to King’s with his cousin Earl. Hilton keeps busy putting the world to rights and quipping with his cousin and Nancy, the nurse looking after him.
“I feel as young as ever, I’m quite happy,” says Hilton. “Never married yet, I don’t want nobody to have me pinned down to them. I like to be free.”
Retired architect Edgar comes in after suffering an asthma attack. He’s struggling to breathe, but A&E doctor Des realises that it’s not just asthma that’s troubling the 79-year-old. Edgar confides in Des that his wife of forty-five years, who was a nurse, passed away only a few months earlier. He’s grieving for her and has no-one to turn to, so Des tries to get him some support.
“There is a phenomenon called ‘broken heart syndrome’ and I think that once your partner and your anchor is gone, then why are we here?” says Des. “I find it difficult to know that there’s an aspect of my patients’ care that I can’t sort out, because that’s why I’m here…I’d love to wave my magic wand and make everything fantastic, but life’s not like that.”
And in the waiting room two older women make friends, talk about their life, love and loss and exchange jokes with each other. As one of them points out philosophically: “Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you sleep alone.”
This week’s 24 Hours in A&E, the RTS award-winning series filmed at King’s College Hospital in south London, is about living life to the full and not looking back.
47-year-old Gary was on his motorcycle when he had a head on collision with a car. The single father of two is a code red trauma and is being flown fifty miles to King’s by air ambulance. He’s on life support with serious head, chest and limb injuries and has been put in a medically-induced coma to reduce the risk of brain damage.
A&E consultant Chris is leading a trauma team of twenty and her immediate concern is keeping Gary alive: “You’re thinking what will kill him first…you’re always thinking of the chances of survival,” she says. “You’re wondering what the impact speed was, whether the patient was thrown a distance, whether they hit the windscreen, what other objects they could have hit when they were thrown off.”
In minors, 69-year-old charmer Steve has a fishbone stuck in his finger. It happened while he was preparing supper for a female friend. “I was showing off my skills in cooking fish,” he says. “I got somewhat distracted by her beauty, I just got complacent and that’s when it happened.” His fear of pain and needles make it a challenge for the nurse to anaesthetize his finger and remove the bone.
A year ago, 58-year-old Terry was diagnosed with lung cancer and given two weeks to live. But Terry’s a fighter and will not give up easily. He’s in A&E with his friend and carer Sandy who looked after Terry’s identical twin brother, Tom, during his last months and promised she would do the same for Terry.
“Terry’s not the sort of person you can say ‘Oh, I do feel sorry for you’,“ says Sandy. “You say ‘You know you’ve got it, you know how far it’s progressed, you know how to deal with it now and if you can’t deal with it on your own, I’m here to deal with it with you. But I’m not going to sit there and wallow in self-pity with you, we are gonna fight whatever comes along’ and this is what we’ve done…I get more angry than I get upset.”
Senior sister Leanne epitomizes the ‘seize the day’ approach to life. “When you do this job every day and realise how short your life can be, literally nothing is taken for granted,” she says. “You know it can just end like that - you’re not going to waste a day are you? You’re just gonna do it.”
This week’s 24 Hours in A&E, the RTS award-winning series filmed at King’s College Hospital in south London, is a moving – and sometimes light hearted - look at when boys become men and passing the baton between the generations.
26-year-old Nicholas has been punched in the face in a random attack – his jaw is fractured and dislocated and he can’t close his mouth or speak. Consultant Craniofacial Surgeon Rob, a world-renowned specialist, puts Nicholas’s jaw back in place with his ‘magic thumb’.
With Nicholas is his long-term girlfriend, Holly. “He’s definitely not the fighting type. When I first met him, for sure, he was a boy,” she says. “Sometimes I feel a bit like a mum – ‘Can you slow down? Don’t run or you’re going to hurt yourself!’.”
Tyrell has damaged his big toe playing football. The 17-year-old’s blackened toe-nail needs removing and his dad, Adrian, uses the opportunity to lecture him that experiencing pain is what separates men from boys and about the importance of knowing his family tree as well as he knows Spanish football.
Ho, 26, has brought his 78-year-old grandma Amoui to King’s after finding her collapsed in her flat. Amoui came to Britain during the Vietnam war and she’s been like a mother to Ho. The thought of losing her is almost too much for her grandson to bear. “It was a shock when I found my grandma…I’ve never seen her so fragile before,” he says. “She’s a tough lady, she’s like Margaret Thatcher. She looked after me always and so I felt I have the responsibility to go and look after her.”
Consultant Rob, the first person in his family to go to university – “or, for that matter, to do an A level” - recalls his own rite of passage to becoming a man, with his father, who left school at thirteen to work in a brick yard to support his family.
“There is a time in your life that is unspoken, when your responsibilities change from your parents to you,” he says. “I remember standing at the side of my father’s car and he gave me the car keys… and something in that unspoken act said that was the transition.”
This week’s 24 Hours in A&E, the RTS award-winning series filmed at King’s College Hospital in south London, focuses on the worried parents of a young girl who fell dangerously when at the diving pool and the difficult work of the hospital’s security team.
Eight-year-old Abby hit her head after falling from the steps of a high diving board. The medical team need to scan her head and neck to check for serious injuries.
“Head injury in children always makes me worried,” says Paediatric Intensive Care Consultant Tushar. “Seeing her getting drowsy was not good, her brain could be under pressure from a blood clot.”
Abby’s mum Nikki is at her beside, but dad Scott is away in Scotland having missed the last train home. “I had no passport so I couldn’t fly. I just remember sitting on the floor just trying to figure out some way that I could possibly get down to London right away, “ says Scott. “It’s worse than agony. I just wanted to be there.”
Mum Nikki is putting on a brave face and trying to hold things together for her daughter, but like every parent whose child is injured, inside she’s terrified. “I had to say to her you’re going to be fine, you’re doing really well, just to get through it,” says Nikki.
“I noticed the sheer look of panic and that bottled-up emotion that every mother has when they're scared,” says consultant Tushar. “Wanting ‘please tell me this is going to all be all right’. And I can't, because I will not give false hope.”
Meanwhile, the hospital security team deals with over fifty incidents every month in A&E, ranging from verbal abuse to assault. Anne and Holton are both working the night shift dealing with a variety of challenging patients in the hospital.
“Sometimes I go home and I think about what I've seen that night, or I speak to my wife about it. I do fear for the younger ones 'cause I know how horrible the world we live in can be,” says Holton. “My mum says I'm overprotective, but my daughter, she gets a little bump on her head, I feel like I want to wrap them up in cotton wool.”
The RTS award-winning series 24 Hours in A&E, filmed at King’s College Hospital in south London, continues with a moving and emotional programme about head injuries and the power of unconditional love.
47-year-old Chrissie was crossing the road near her home when she was hit by a motorcycle. The side of Chrissie’s face took the brunt of the impact and the main concern is potential bleeding behind the eye or in the brain. Her husband Tim struggles to get to the hospital - ironically he’s stuck in the traffic jam her accident has caused.
Chrissie and Tim first met over twenty years ago. It was love at first sight and Tim proposed almost immediately. But three weeks before the wedding, Chrissie changed her mind, Tim moved out and never came back.
However four years ago Chrissie got in touch looking for closure and they decided, finally, to get married. But could Chrissie’s accident put their second chance of happiness in jeopardy?
John is in Resus with a suspected stroke - luckily for him, King’s specialises in caring for stroke patients. He’s confused and doesn’t know what year it is. But in spite of his fears about memory loss, John’s irrepressible sense of humour shines through.
Meanwhile Benedict, 22, a gifted musician, has come into King’s because of his drinking problems – he drinks over seventy units of alcohol a day. Damian, Benedict’s dad, finds it difficult to watch the destructive nature of his son’s alcoholism - but can a father’s unconditional love overcome such a terrible disease?
“When somebody that you've brought up and been proud of is an alcoholic, I think there aren't enough words really to describe the intense sorrow and pain that one can feel,” says Damian. “I don’t think there’s a stereotype, it can happen to anybody, at any time.”
For consultant Liz, it’s the patients’ families who carry the weight of responsibility after an illness or accident. “It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint,’” says Liz. “Long after the hospital has discharged them the process of getting well may still be going on and it’s the relatives that carry the burden of that.”
‘24 Hours in A&E’ is a powerful, intimate - at times humorous but ultimately heart-warming - portrait of modern Britain in all its diversity.
The RTS award-winning series 24 Hours in A&E continues with a programme about romance and the complexity of relationships. It’s Valentine’s Day in Kings’ College Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department and love is in the air.
“Relationships in A&E, it can go either one way or the other,” says nurse Abbie. “It can bring people closer together because they get a fright and then they realise that some things actually really don't matter now my partner's sick. But you do see the odd fight.”
Father-of-three John, 53, was on his way to work when he came off his motorbike and struck a bollard, injuring his shoulder. Frances, his partner of twenty-four years, is abroad and John doesn’t want to spoil her holiday – she worries about him going out on his motorbike every single day – so he asks their son not to tell her he’s in hospital.
“I'm a psychologist,” says John. “Some of the work I do is with pain management and I teach particular skills to my clients - none of those skills were of any use to me at that time.”
Consultant Graham, who’s looking after John, decides his patient’s pain is so bad that he will give him Ketamine – a sedative so strong it’s also used as a horse tranquiliser.
Gary is in King’s with a bleed on the brain and a suspected stroke. His partner Tracy is at his side to support him. They met at a biker’s rally in Kent ten years ago and are still deeply in love. Despite appearances, Gary is a secret softie.
84-year-old Ronald has been bitten by his dog Benjie while playing with a ball. Ronald’s wife Cathy passed away after fifty years of marriage and Benjie is his constant companion – as well as being very contrite since the accident.
24 Hours in A&E is a powerful, intimate - at times humorous, but ultimately heart-warming - portrait of modern Britain in all its diversity.
The RTS award-winning series 24 Hours in A&E continues with a powerful and cautionary episode about events that shock people into reflecting on the way they live their lives.
39-year-old Neil was driving a friend’s sports car when he was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle. Trapped in the wreckage for over an hour, he’s been flown by HEMS, the helicopter emergency medics, to King’s A&E. The main concern is potential paralysis from injury to his neck and back.
“Psychology can be horrendous after a big smash,” says Registrar Charles, who is treating Neil. “Quite often a big injury, a big car crash, even one where you don’t get injured, ranks as a life-changing event.”
Meanwhile in Minors, two patients have come in as the result of daredevil antics. 21-year-old Thomassine is a fledgling skateboarder who was encouraged by her best friend Andre to do a risky stunt in the park after dark and she’s badly hurt her ankle. But at least Andre is there to help her home.
Matias, 34, tried to get onto a train after the doors had closed. With his hands trapped, he was dragged along the platform until he managed to pull himself free. “It was the closest I’ve been in my life to death,” he says. “As I was laying there I could just feel a feeling of slipping away, it was quite strange. You just feel like you’re just gonna pass out and not come back.”
Both patients are being looked after by junior doctor Oscar, who admits he rarely takes risks. “I try not to judge anybody when they come in,” he says. “I try not to really judge people at all. Everyone has moments of madness in their life. I don’t live every minute of life thinking ‘Oh gosh, I won’t do that ‘cause I might end up in A&E’, other than the fact that I live quite close by and it would be embarrassing to end up in this A&E department.”
Filmed at the Emergency Department of King’s College Hospital, 24 Hours in A&E is a powerful, intimate - at times humorous but ultimately heart-warming - portrait of modern Britain in all its diversity.
The RTS award-winning series 24 Hours in A&E, filmed around the clock at one of Britain’s busiest A&E departments at King’s College Hospital in south London, continues with a moving and tender episode about three daughters’ love for their mother and the fear of losing her.
80-year-old Rose has fluid on her lungs and is having trouble breathing. Her three daughters Christine, Sandra and Debbie put on a brave face around their mother’s bedside, convincing her that everything will be all right, but in the relatives’ room there is high emotion as they tearfully contemplate life without her.
Debbie wants to get the grandchildren to the hospital before it’s too late, but older sister Sandra thinks all the family by the bedside will make their mum think it’s her last rites.
Sister Claire, who is looking after Rose, knows only too well the torment the families go through around end of life decisions: “As doctors and nurses, we have to accept we can’t change everything and there’s not always a miracle cure,” she says. “Once you accept it is happening you have to get it right. You can’t get dying wrong”.
Also in Resus, is Kevin, a 55-year-old trucker who jack-knifed his lorry, ‘bullseyed’ the windscreen and rolled down a verge. He was trapped in the wreckage for an hour before being cut free and air lifted to King’s by the Kent air ambulance. He has injuries to his pelvis, neck and head. His wife Janet waits anxiously for news about the seriousness of the injuries.
“Modern medicine is perhaps a victim of its own success,” says consultant Malcolm. “Some people’s lives are prolonged in an uncomfortable, undignified state because doctors try and play God sometimes…but we’re not gods”.
24 Hours in A&E is a powerful, intimate - at times humorous, but ultimately heart-warming - portrait of modern Britain in all its diversity.
Filmed around the clock at one of Britain’s busiest A&E departments at King’s College Hospital in south London, which this year celebrates its centenary, the series begins with a powerful episode about how our lives can change forever in the blink of an eye.
In a shocking, random act of violence, a young woman is knocked to the ground, after being punched in the face by a stranger on her way home from work. Lying in the street, she’s fighting for her life when Andrew, a passer-by, finds her and calls 999.
A&E doctor Des has worked at King’s for over five years and is rarely shocked by what he sees, but when the unidentified young woman arrives in Resus with life-threatening swelling on her brain, the impact is felt by him and the entire department.
“People are unfortunately capable of doing the most awful things to one another, but people are also capable of doing some of the nicest and kindest things that you would never imagine would happen in a busy, urban area like Kings,” says Des. “So sometimes it’s the acts of kindness that surprise me more than the acts of cruelty.”
Also in Resus is 12-year-old Tom. Hit by a car on his way home from school, he is airlifted to King’s by HEMS, the helicopter emergency medics. His mum Anna faces an agonizing wait as A&E Consultant Emer assesses the extent of damage to her son’s brain.
“Children are inherently fit strong little creatures,” says Emer. “Children’s little bodies will compensate for a long time and they will hold it together and hold it together and hold it together and then crash…”
Meanwhile, 90-year-old ex-circus performer Frank is in A&E after collapsing at home. News of his colourful past – including training bears and lifting horses - quickly travels amongst the staff as they try to determine what brought him to King's.
24 Hours in A&E is a powerful, intimate - at times humorous, but ultimately heart-warming - portrait of modern Britain in all its diversity.