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Health, Sports & Psychology

Hospital - Series 1

Hospital, our new six-part co-production with the BBC, is the story of the NHS in unprecedented times.

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Hospital - group shot of the doctors and other hospital staff (BBC Use) Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC With exceptional access to one of the UK’s biggest and busiest NHS Trusts, Hospital brings audiences intensely close to the issues and challenges that continually dominate the headlines. Filmed over six weeks during the past three months, Hospital is a timely six part series capturing the day-to-day realities facing the NHS right now. Each episode will show with exceptional candour the ever-increasing demands on the NHS’s services, from intricate and morally complex medical ethics to health tourism; from A&E overcrowding to cancelled operations. The audience will see the extraordinary dilemmas which happen every day for the consultants, surgeons and bed managers, all of which have profound consequences for patients and treatments. Shot across five hospitals in Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust London, the series highlights the complex decision making and the impact each one can have, following the key decision makers as they attempt to care for nearly 20,000 people every week. But standing in their way are limited resources, an increasing number of emergency patients and a clock that never stops ticking. 

Hospital is currently broadcasting on Wednesday nights on BBC Two at 9pm, and is available on iPlayer. Full broadcast details and links to watch again can be found on

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Episode 1

Hospital - group shot of the doctors and other hospital staff (BBC Use) Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC Late October 2016… Two patients await life-saving surgery at St Mary’s in Paddington, the biggest of the five hospitals in the Trust.  They will both need a bed on the intensive care ward.  But the hospital is full to capacity - on red alert - and there is only one bed left.

67-year old Simon needs an operation to remove a cancerous tumour from his oesophagus.   As he is being prepped for surgery, St Mary's takes a call from an ambulance speeding to London en route from Norwich.  In the back is 78-year-old Janice.  She is being ‘blue lighted’ to St Mary’s with a ruptured aneurysm in her aorta and is less than six hours from death. If she arrives alive, and survives the surgery, she - like Simon - will also need a bed in intensive care.

The surgeons - Professor George Hanna and Richard Gibbs who are slated to carry out the operations are at the centre of this film. We follow their attempts to do the right thing for both patients in a complex life-and-death situation where two into one just won't go.

 “To cure Simon, he needs to have the operation”, says Professor Hanna. But, in a world where beds are at a premium, operating can seem like the easy part. As surgeon Gibbs remarks, “I sometimes feel that I spend as much energy on trying to organise and manage beds… to allow us to just get on with [the operation]”.

 Simon has had his cancer operation cancelled once already and having completed extensive chemotherapy needs his surgery to be completed soon. Simon explains, “You just rely on them to do the operation. You just want it done; you reach a point when you just can’t keep putting it off forever.”

 Consultant in charge of the Intensive Care Unit, Simon Ashworth, is also feeling the pressure.  It's down to him to make the difficult decision about who to admit for surgery: "It does feel to me like the elastic is a bit nearer to breaking now than it perhaps ever was. Everyone thinks what they’re doing is important and guess what everybody’s right”.  

Two floors down from ICU, 18-year old Deborah is anxiously awaiting a life-saving bone marrow transplant to cure her of chronic sickle cell disease. St Mary’s is the only specialist centre in the UK that has pioneered a treatment for sickle cell disease with bone marrow transplants that aren’t the normal 100 per cent donor match. Deborah’s brother Sam is a fifty per cent match and the family’s hopes rest on him being able to provide her with the bone marrow she needs to save her life.

Episodes in this series

Episode Description
Episode 1 Two patients need life-saving surgery but there is only one bed left on the intensive care ward. How will the NHS... Read more
Episode 2 91-year-old Dolly, who recently broke her ankle, feels she's guilty of bed-blocking as she cannot be discharged until... Read more
Episode 3 The neurological department in the hospital has one of the longest waiting lists in the country - it is also... Read more
Episode 4 As a woman from Nigeria looks at the possibility of owing half a million pounds to the NHS, this episode looks at... Read more
Episode 5 This episode looks at pioneering treatments for some of the oldest and youngest patients in the hospital. Read more
Episode 6 In this episode, surgeons are forced to use unconventional methods to get their operations completed against the odds. Read more