This review first appeared in the Andersonstown News


A & E AFTER DARK (CHANNEL 5) isn’t that much different from A & E in broad daylight, except that it allows for a more dramatic opening:

“After dark, the nation sleeps and an army of medics across the UK work through the night. It’s not a working environment that’s for the faint-hearted!”

Actually, the programme starts with a Carry On Doctor moment: a barefoot patient and in his night-shirt is caught by CCTV as he climbs on board an ambulance and starts its engine. But he hasn’t gone three feet when the authorities swoop and grab him.

Back indoors, the team are treating a young lad who’s been stabbed multiple times. They do all they can but a young life is lost. A nurse fights back the tears:“You go home, you cuddle your family, you get on, come back, start all over again”.

Each story is unique. Tom has dislocated his ankle while playing football. They sedate him and manipulate his ankle until they’re happy, then put on a cast. Happy days.

Jimmy’s in his seventies and is up at Hull for the wedding of his god-daughter but he’s had an accident and his face a mess. Doctor Tilly (who looks about fifteen) cleans up Jimmy’s face as best she can. “It may need plastic surgery -but not today”, she tells him. “Oh Jimmy” his wife says for the fifth time. Will they make the church on time?

And look at this man: he’s got a fishhook buried deep in his thumb. Decade of fishing, first time he’s caught himself. They give him a local anaesthetic and use a scalpel to extract the hook.

Most dramatic is the tale of Yeri. He’s driven twelve miles to the hospital after experiencing sweat and faintness. That’s because his heart is going at over twice the rate it should be. How to get it back to its normal rhythm? Shock treatment – stand clear! A jolt of electricity shoots Yeri backward in the bed, face contorted, clutching his chest. But it’s good news – his heart speed is back to normal.

At programme’s end, they tell us What Happened Next. Jimmy made it to the wedding “but avoided the cameras most of the day”. The “ambulance thief” is discharged from hospital and convicted of “aggravated taking of an emergency vehicle without the owner’s consent”. And the family of the patient who died from stab wounds, the closing notices tell us, “want to thank the team at Hull Royal Infirmary for their care and hard work in trying to save their son”.

Injury and death: horrible but hard not to watch.

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