Filmed around the clock at one of Britain’s busiest casualty departments at King’s College Hospital in south London, which this year celebrates its centenary, the series 24 Hours in A&E begins with a powerful episode about how our lives can change forever in the blink of an eye.
In a shocking, random act of violence, a young woman is knocked to the ground, after being punched in the face by a stranger on her way home from work. Lying in the street, she’s fighting for her life when Andrew, a passer-by, finds her and calls 999.
A&E doctor Des has worked at King’s for over five years and is rarely shocked by what he sees, but when the unidentified young woman arrives in Resus with life-threatening swelling on her brain, the impact is felt by him and the entire department.
“People are unfortunately capable of doing the most awful things to one another, but people are also capable of doing some of the nicest and kindest things that you would never imagine would happen in a busy, urban area like Kings,” says Des. “So sometimes it’s the acts of kindness that surprise me more than the acts of cruelty.”
Also in Resus is 12-year-old Tom. Hit by a car on his way home from school, he is airlifted to King’s by HEMS, the helicopter emergency medics. His mum Anna faces an agonizing wait as A&E Consultant Emer assesses the extent of damage to her son’s brain.
“Children are inherently fit strong little creatures,” says Emer. “Children’s little bodies will compensate for a long time and they will hold it together and hold it together and hold it together and then crash…”
Meanwhile, 90-year-old ex-circus performer Frank is in A&E after collapsing at home. News of his colourful past – including training bears and lifting horses – quickly travels amongst the staff as they try to determine what brought him to King’s.
“24 Hours in A&E is a powerful, intimate – at times humorous, but ultimately heart-warming – portrait of modern Britain in all its diversity.” – Channel 4.
Episode one, in a twenty-part series, airs on April 10th at 9pm on Channel 4