BBC Two's Hospital documentary returns to TV this month with a dramatic look at the Westminster attack in London.
The first series, filmed at hospitals across Imperial College Healthcare Trust London at the end of 2016, averaged 2.5 million viewers per episode.
It brought stories of national importance to the front of the news agenda, including the debate around health tourism and the chronic shortage of beds, not only at Imperial but also at hospitals across the UK.
A second series was commissioned shortly after and BBC cameras were filming when a terrorist attack struck London at Westminster in March of this year.
The opening episode of the second series of Hospital follows events as St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington receives victims from the Westminster terror attack.
Wednesday 22 March. In the immediate aftermath of the terror attack on Westminster Bridge, three miles away a major incident is declared at St Mary’s Hospital - the nearest of London’s four Major Trauma Centres.
The hospital’s Site Director, Lesley Powls, says: “We are a hospital in the middle of London, we are a Major Trauma Centre, we accept that the chances of there being a terrorist incident are higher for us to have to deal with than certain other hospitals.”
Staff at the hospital have just minutes to implement the Trust’s Major Incident Protocol, including a gold, silver, bronze command chain, putting the hospital on lockdown and organising the transfer of some critically ill patients from the Hospital’s already full intensive care unit to sister hospital, Charing Cross.
In A&E, specialist trauma teams are assembled, ready to receive the casualties as they start to arrive. Victims include students from a French school trip, 18 year-old Yann and 16 year-old Victor, and British victim Stephen - who needs immediate surgery to save his leg - who is with his wife Cara.
Cara says: “It’s really hard when you spend so much time with somebody and then they’re taken away from you and you’re suddenly really, really alone. Cos you just want to grab hold of him, just give him a cuddle and a squeeze & take care of him but then he’s so fragile, you can’t, you just can’t touch him.”
In the days after the attack, staff at the hospital attempt to revert to business as usual and arrange for the repatriation of the foreign nationals caught up in the atrocity. Meanwhile, the victims come to terms with what has happened to them. French student, Yann, says: “There was a moment in the ambulance where I felt like I was going, I just wanted to sleep. I didn’t know if I was going to die.”
“We’re just an ordinary couple”, says Stephen, “This will change us.”
Hospital airs Tuesday, June 20 at 9PM on BBC Two.
The BBC has already announced a third series, which will look at other areas within the NHS, including maternity and mental health care provision.