A sneak peek into episode three of ’24 Hours in A&E’

Filmed around the clock by 104 cameras, the series captures dramatic and emotional stories of love, life and loss on the frontline of the NHS. This week’s programme focuses on the support given to patients by their loved ones and staff reflect on personal stories that inspired them to work in A&E.

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 confirms 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.”

Nurse practitioner Becky and nurse Sandra reflect on what inspired them to work in A&E.

“I think a lot of people go into nursing because something happened to them when they’re younger,” says Becky. “My mum died of cancer when I was 8 and anything I can do to stop anyone else go through that kind of terrible emotion of losing someone, that’s why I wanted to be a nurse. The thing about working in A&E is that a lot of really horrible things happen to really good people…it makes you grateful for what you have.”

“People assume I’ve been nursing all my life, but it’s only been the last couple of years,” says Sandra. “I was a lorry driver and a bus driver, then a pub manager and now I’m a nurse. I had a son that was involved in a car accident, I lost him. So instead of curling up and going into a little ball I decided to get myself off to college, get an education and put myself into that. I always wanted to be an A&E nurse. I like to help others that are going through what I went through. That’s how I help myself.”