A sneak peek into tonight’s episode of 24 Hours in A&E “Stand by your man”
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.
This episode focuses on the highs and lows of relationships and the power of family ties to endure against the odds.
52-year-old long distance lorry driver Neil is rushed to St George’s after falling backwards off a ramp onto a concrete floor. His family is 200 miles away in Middlesbrough and unaware of his accident.
Consultant Rathan is concerned that Neil has sustained serious injuries to his head and neck and is at risk of a bleed on the brain. “Just because a patient can talk does not mean that there is no danger, “ Rathan explains. “He could have a really nasty break to the spine and the neck that could paralyse. Any damage to the brain could not only be life-changing it could be life-threatening.”
Whilst Neil is sent for an urgent CT scan, Neil’s ex-wife Heather describes the night they first met in a pub and how he used to get up and sing Abba on the Karaoke, stone cold sober. “I did fancy him straightaway…” she says smiling. “He had more hair then…”
After 20 years of life together and two wonderful children, Heather goes on to explain that she and Neil began to drift apart and they eventually separated. Nevertheless, she admits that she will always be there for him: “You can’t walk away. I couldn’t turn my back on someone and not support them — it’s just not in me.”
The CT scan shows that Neil has not sustained any serious injuries from his fall but unexpectedly, it does reveal a large tumour on his brain. Neil reflects on the shock of the news – “but for an accident I would never have known” – on the uncertainty of his future and on his fears for his young family. “I lost my father when I was very young… I know the affect it can have on children… I just don’t want that to happen.”
29 year old Ben is brought to A&E after dislocating his shoulder in a cycling accident. Whilst doctors re-locate his shoulder, his girlfriend Karen explains how they have only been together for a year and that she’s nervous at the prospect of speaking to Ben’s mum for the first time. “The boyfriend’s mum is always a significant point in any girl’s relationship calendar,” she says. “It was a responsibility I really didn’t want to mess up.”
After a successful re-location, Ben continues to experience acute pain so he is sent for further X rays to uncover the cause of his on-going discomfort. Whilst waiting for the results, Karen and Ben both describe their difficult experiences of growing up with divorced parents and how it impacted on their view of love. “Experiences with my family have shown how devastating the break up of a relationship can be,” says Karen. “I became hugely guarded after my parents divorced. Didn’t want to get married, didn’t want to go through that hurt… but meeting Ben has changed my mind.”
73 year old Wendy is in Resus with a severe open ankle fracture after falling at home. As Wendy’s leg is examined, she tells us in no uncertain times about her views on the world. “I like who I like and who I don’t like, I ignore.”
As Wendy enjoys the gas and air given to help her cope with the pain – “I’ll be as high as a kite” – she tells us that she’s been married twice but that her first husband was unfaithful. “His name was Keith but he liked to be known as Dave. Everything was fine until ‘Cynth the Nymph’ came on the scene…” Not wanting to be “second best” Wendy promptly divorced him.
X ray results reveal a severe fracture to Wendy’s leg that can only be fixed with surgery. While waiting for the operation, Wendy talks lovingly about her second husband Bill, about spending 40 wonderful years together and the grief of losing him three years ago: “I still talk to him at night,” she says looking towards the sky, “‘Goodnight Bill… I’ll be up there with you soon.’”
Series Producer/Directors: Gemma Brady, Martin Conway, Lucie Duxbury
Executive Producers: Spencer Kelly, Emma Tutty
Production Company: The Garden Productions