Series 1 - Episode 1



Most documentaries about the NHS fill you with a sense of quiet wonder at what it does. That’s only part of the story here. Our visit to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London is not a tale of cheerful heroism or human frailty but of systemic waste and overstretch.

There is heroism in the midst of it, though. Particularly in the case of Simon, who has been prepared for an operation on his oesophageal cancer but will need an intensive care bed afterwards. That bed may not be available because a patient with a burst aneurysm is being transferred at high speed from Norfolk – and her need for a bed trumps his.

The discussions between surgeons and managers as they balance needs and risks with the immovable limits of bed-space are acutely observed and fascinating. As the doctor in charge of intensive care sighs, “It does feel as if the elastic’s a bit nearer to snapping than it ever was.”


New series. A six-part series capturing the day-to-day realities that face the NHS in unprecedented times. With an ever-increasing demand on its various services, the programme shows the real-life dilemmas and tough decisions that hospital staff and patients alike have to endure. In the first episode, two patients await life-saving surgery at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington - both need to be in the intensive care ward, but the hospital is at full capacity and there is only one bed remaining.

Cast & Crew

Executive Producer Lorraine Charker-Phillips
Executive Producer Simon Dickson
Executive Producer Helen Littleboy
Series Editor Graeme McAulay
Series Producer Tom Currie
Series Producer Gilly Greenslade
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