‘Hospital’ – BBC 2 Documentary Episodes 1 & 2

Two programs have been shown so far from the current BBC 2 series ‘Hospital’ in which St Mary’s hospital in Paddington opens its doors to BBC cameras to reveal the truth about the NHS crisis. I believe it is extremely important that as many people of the British public as possible watch the program in order to understand exactly where problems currently lie in the NHS. I believe that the more people that we educate about the crisis and expose major flaws in the system, the more likely we will be able to persuade the government to spend money on a solution. The tax payer funds the NHS and therefore it is their decision as to how it is run.

It was very interesting to see that highly qualified consultants had to wait around and check for beds, wasting precious time of which could be spent with a patient or researching. Before I watched ‘Hospital’ I did not think that this job is done by a surgeon but by skilled administrative staff.

Lack of beds is shown as the biggest problem at St Mary’s. Whilst a team of 14 people arranged their day around performing an operation, the operation did not end up taking place due to no ICU bed being available for after the patient’s operation. Many emergency trauma patients were coming into the hospital via emergency ambulances, taking up the precious ICU beds. I learned that beds will be given to patients in order of priority. This is extremely understandable as they would like to help as many patients as possible and if someone is near death they must treat that case first, using up any pre-arranged and less urgent beds. However, this is extremely frustrating for patients who have pre-arranged ICU beds as they mentally prepare for their operation and are often sent home, having to wait another four weeks or more. These last minute cancellations of arranged operations mean that doctors waste their days waiting around and have to spend time rearranging the surgery. If there were more beds available, all planned operations, along with emergency operations, could take place and doctor’s would no longer have to worry about rearranging appointments and checking availability of beds for a ‘go ahead’. A delay in appointments on one day also means rearranging future appointments in order to fit the rearranged operation in the consultant’s schedule.

I saw that ward beds were also wasted due to the fact that there was no care system put in place as an intermediate step between hospital and home. If there was an intermediate step, people could be discharged from hospital wards safely with the reassurance that they will be looked after for as long as needs be, whilst not putting a strain on the hospital beds that are in extremely high demand. There must be a better care plan put into place for elderly people who are discharged from hospital as they are weak and particularly vulnerable. Currently, these elderly patients stay in A and E until they are completely better – this wastes bed space and equipment and means that consultants cannot get on with their job as there are no beds available for the patients that need them. The day we tighten up discharges from hospital is the day that we will see more beds available, more people being saved in a shorter amount of time and less wasting of doctors’ precious time.

I learned more about a healthcare professional as a role in society as opposed to solely a profession as a nurse feared to discharge a patient who was well enough to leave due to him having nowhere to go as he is homeless. This is another clear case of failing in the discharge system. The man spent a week in the hospital after he was well enough to go home due to the fact that there is no recognised place for him to go. This wasted his bed and other precious resources. Nurses and doctors are taught to express their duty of care and this nurse showed her duty of care to the homeless patient as she spoke about showing the same amount of care whether the patient is “from Buckingham Palace or a park bench”. It was said that he could have been discharged a week earlier as he was fit enough to leave but was not discharged due to the nurse’s concerns of his future living plans. There has to be a recovery location available after stays in hospitals so that the nurses and doctors can be reassured that the patient’s condition will not deteriorate due to a poor environment during recovery and the bed can be used for the next patient.

I truly believe that this television program can change people’s opinions of the NHS – many people have the misconception that it is the doctor’s own fault that they have to wait so long to be seen or referred, and through this program they can see the true workings of a hospital and the number of hours spent catering for every patient’s needs. For me as a potential future doctor, I will use this program as an example of where I would like to see changes in our NHS whilst appreciating how lucky we are that every patient receives outstanding healthcare through the NHS, even though we may have to wait to be seen.

Many condolences to Peter’s wife and family – a truly brave, patient and appreciative man.



Emily Buchanan

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