A sneak peek into tonight’s episode of 24 Hours in A&E “Safe From Harm”
The RTS award-winning documentary series returns for a twelfth series following patients treated in the same 24 hour period at St George’s in south west London. The hospital has one of the busiest A&E departments in Britain – under more pressure than ever. It’s a place where stories of life, love and loss unfold every day.
In this episode staff and patients at St George’s talk about the importance of family support when dealing with difficult circumstances.
51-year-old painter and decorator Gary is rushed to St George’s A&E after falling ten feet from a ladder whilst at work painting a ceiling. His friend and work-mate John was working nearby when he heard about the accident, “you fear the worst. I thought he’d broken his back”
Gary’s parents Don and Gill are first to arrive at St George’s and Dr Rob sends Gary for urgent CT scans. As radiographer’s carry out the scans, we hear from Don how he and Gary worked in the local foundry and in their spare time shared a love for fishing. But whilst Gary enjoyed a big catch as an angler, he was never so lucky in love after two engagements were broken-off, “it broke his heart and he’s never been with anyone since”. Best friend John reflects on the importance of Gary’s friendship, “he’s a member of the family, he’s seen my daughter born… never misses out on anybody’s birthday.”
But when Gary’s scans arrive, Dr Rob becomes increasingly concerned about fractures in his back, pelvis and coccyx, “the worst case scenario….is that anything below the injury will stop working permanently.” A concern shared by Gary’s best friend John, “if he doesn’t go back to work…it would be terrible for him”.
Meanwhile, 5-year-old Beatriz has been brought to A&E by her parents Cristiane and Alessandro with symptoms of a fever. It turns out she suffers a rare kidney condition that lowers her immune system making her vulnerable to infection. In her first year, she was admitted into hospital about 38 times. But despite her condition she’s still determined to enjoy a normal life as a child, “she is very curious….she wants to be an astronaut and explore the solar system…and likes sports and swimming”. But a trip to the swimming pool can result in an infection and more hospital treatment. “It’s draining,” says mum Cristiane but a stay in hospital has become a regular routine, “nowadays we pack our stuff as if we’re going on holiday.” As doctors carry out further tests, there’s a concern that Beatriz might need to stay in hospital again so doctors can help her fight the infection.
84-year-old Eileen is brought to A&E suffering from stroke like symptoms. Her daughter Catherine travelled with her in the ambulance, “she was almost paralysed on one side of the face…and started talking in a strange language…I know this could be something more permanent.” As Specialist Doctors take Eileen for scans and carry out further tests, Catherine tells us that her mum wasn’t from a well off background but “she was very ambitious to be educated.” Through hard work Eileen got a degree and became a social worker, “I always remember her writing and being very busy and being able to argue with the best of them.” But in recent years Eileen has suffered from dementia, “she started to call me a lot during the day say six or seven times …there have been occasions where she’s been out on buses and forgotten where she’s going or where she lives and I’ve had calls from strangers saying she’s with them”. The diagnosis was a shock to Catherine, “I think for someone who is so intelligent and articulate, I couldn’t believe that could be the case.” To help care for Eileen, daughter Catherine asked her mum to move in with her, “caring for someone with Alzheimer’s makes you very upset and down and the person you would go to with those sort of feelings is your mother and you can’t. You have to be a stronger person…if you look at it with so much seriousness you wouldn’t get through it.”
Dr Rob reflects on his own experience after being diagnosed with cancer and how colleagues, family and friends helped him overcome his illness.
Series Producer/Directors: Martin Conway, Gemma Brady, Lucie Duxbury
Executive Producers: Spencer Kelly,
Production Company: The Garden Productions