Episode Four of ’24 Hours in A&E’ – Handling Anxiety
The RTS award-winning documentary series continues from St George’s hospital in south west London, which has one of Britain’s most advanced and busiest A&E departments. This week’s episode looks at the anxiety faced by patients, family and staff.
11-month-old Isabel is rushed to St George’s after suffering a fit and becoming unconscious. Isabel’s grandmother Debbie was babysitting her at the time. “You think ‘This shouldn’t be happening, she’s only a baby’,” says Debbie. “She had three or four people around her trying to revive her and that’s when it really hits you. I don’t think I’ve ever been that frightened.”
Isabel’s parents Charlie and Catherine arrive at the hospital to find Isabel unconscious and ventilated due to the strong medication she’s been given. “I’d prepared for wires, but I’d not prepared for her not being able to breath for herself,” says mum Catherine.
“It was a case of ‘What do we do now?’,” says dad Charlie. “And the doctors told us to talk to her. I just thought ‘Please don’t let my girl be gone, she’s so happy, she loves life so much’.”
22-year-old Felix is brought to A&E with a self-inflicted stab wound to his stomach. Felix stabbed himself with a six-inch knife after a night out with friends.
“It’s actually a very common problem, self-harm. By comparison to the volume of self-harm we see, self-inflicted penetrating wounds are pretty uncommon,” says consultant Malcolm. “Mental health issues are stigmatized a lot. I want to make sure they don’t feel different or judged, that this is a common problem.”
Felix’s friends Izzy and Olly visit him. “Seeing him like that was a shock because I feel like he’s the stable one who keeps the group stable. He’s the grandpa of the group,” says Izzy.
Meanwhile 68-year-old retired engineer Bill arrives at St George’s by air ambulance after falling 15-feet from a ladder. Bill has suspected multiple fractures and has difficulty breathing. His sister Margaret was next to him when he fell and called 999. “He prides himself on doing everything himself ‘Don’t spend money on that, I can do it!’,” says Margaret.