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TV: 24 Hours in A&E

TV: 24 Hours in A&E

24 Hours in A and E is an unusual documentary, broadcast on Channel 4. It is what it says on the tin – you watch what happens around the clock in a London Accident and Emergency department. Sounds boring, but then so does Gogglebox when you hear it’s basically “watching people watching TV”. Oddly enough, this medical series is a funny way of getting inside the NHS, and learning how hospitals work. This includes the hierarchy of doctors and nurses that work in our hospitals, and how the people in the ambulances respond to calls and communicate with the staff at the hospitals. Again, sounds dull, but it isn’t. Imagine a real life “Casualty” – it’s something like that.


So, the series has been filmed in London hospitals, because that’s where some of the biggest hospitals are. 91 cameras film the department, the patients, and the staff. As well as having some of the biggest accident and emergency departments, London hospitals often have a bigger variety of cases. Work accidents, the elderly, even fights and stabbings are seemingly commonplace in London – judging by the show, anyway! You get to see the weird and wonderful selection of ailments people come in with. Some of them are very serious, but others aren’t. You can usually tell by the way the nurses react, and if they think a patient is being a pain, they don’t hold back!


It’s real people, so sometimes the show can be distressing. It’s always upsetting when someone dies, young or old. The real tragedy is the families they leave behind – be it grandchildren, children, siblings or even spouses. It can be heartbreaking to watch families go through hell and back, torn apart by serious injury or death. But then, the series also has uplifting moments, where your faith is restored in humanity. Often, the people that come into Accident and Emergency come out the other side completely cured, and you hear about what they’ve been doing since. It also has funny moments, where the patients and the nurses engage in banter.


It’s actually won an award in 2012 for being the best Documentary Series, and similar shows are broadcast on other channels. It seems people are interested in how the NHS works! Another show on BBC2 went round different departments and services that the NHS runs in 24 hours, and you’ll be surprised at the amount of different things it does. Another show Channel 4 did after the success of 24 Hours in A&E was 24 Hours in Police Custody, which shows you what the police have to deal with on a daily basis.


To those who say “I don’t use the NHS”, I would like to say this – you might not need it now, but on the horrible day you have an accident (or a member of your family does), what would you do without the Accident and Emergency Department? What would you do when you got sick – who would you go to? After all, none of us ask to be struck down with poor health, but it’s reassuring to know that we can be helped should anything happen to us.


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