Casualty: a suitable case for treatment?

'The most sick being treated by the most thick' was the mordant description of the average casualty ward offered by one doctor in QED (BBC 1). But Staffordshire Royal Infirmary doesn't have an average casualty ward. In their trauma unit they have a consultant on hand 24 hours a day - a departure from medical protocol, which requires that at least three consultants be in constant attendance at the nearest golf course. The idea that the most experienced doctors should treat the most urgent cases is only an experiment, though. The money runs out in a year's time and, this being an indubitable improvement in the care offered by the NHS, it seems unlikely that Mrs Bottomley will do anything to preserve it. It may not be long before mangled casualties are again being welcomed by a sleepy houseman who needs a map to find a pulse point.

Jeremy Llewellyn-Jones's film followed one consultant through a busy shift - pretty much routine for doctors but a crash course in human fecklessness for the viewer. Somebody observed at one point that almost half of those brought in after emergency calls - blue lights flashing, resuscitation team on stand-by - needed no treatment at all, not even aspirin or an Elastoplast. They were, we were told, 'given simple advice and sent home'. My own simple advice to someone who wasted valuable resources like this would be to use a pineapple as a suppository but these people appeared to be made of sterner stuff. When their patients lash out, as many of the drunks do, they don't respond with a swift uppercut, just exasperated, professional care.

Any notion of 'just deserts' would be a liability in this strange world of continual crisis. A woman with a bleeding hand explained that she had been trying to hang a picture. What were you using?, asked the nurse. A Stanley knife, the woman replied.

Later in the film, word arrived that three victims of a head-on collision were on their way. The medical staff waited for them to arrive, as edgy as actors before curtain-up, checking their props and their costumes. Two were policeman suffering from whiplash - the third was the incorrigible 16-year-old who'd driven a stolen car straight at them and who had discovered the hard way that life isn't a

video game.

He was probably saved by the presence of the consultant, who had the experience to test for internal bleeding. It was rather admirable that none of these overworked people wondered why they bothered, at least not aloud, anyway.

'O Mary This London', last night's Screen Two (BBC 2) opened with a promising energy and economy of means. As the wake of a ferry unspooled beneath an Irish tricolour, a young man whooped with glee - just 20 seconds on screen had delivered a mood, the exuberance of getting away. Mary, accompanied by her boyfriend, Bimbo, and his mate, Mickey, were on their way to London - for an abortion, for work and for 'the crack'. There was plenty of the latter in Shane Connaughton's script ('a roide in a Jumbo Jet would have cost less,' yells Mickey indignantly when Mary reveals how much the abortion is going to cost). But what begins as comic misadventure soon darkens into drenched melodrama. What always happens to innocents abroad, happens.

The elements of this were undoubtedly true to life - the casual racism, the exploitation - but this combination of them had the capricious feel of a childhood experiment. Charity and good fortune were randomly delivered and then snatched away, as if the film-makers wanted to see whether they could make us cry. Towards the end it starts to rain, that familiar television monsoon which characters must sit in unheeding as a demonstration of their limitless misery. Unsurprisingly, the trench in which Bimbo is working collapses under the weight of water, allowing Jason Barry (very engaging when dry) to really have a wallow. 'Me only pal]' he howls, hugging the muddy corpse, 'Haven't oi suffered enough?' Don't blame God, Mickey, blame the writer.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
    'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

    Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

    Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
    Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

    Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

    New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

    Rebranding Christmas

    More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
    A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

    A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

    Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
    Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

    Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

    New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
    Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

    Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

    He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...