Unless you work directly in the industry – or even if you are training to work within the medical profession, it’s easy to see that there are many things we can learn from documentaries and fly-on-the-wall programmes about the role of doctors, surgeons and nurses in today’s world. Many documentaries are candid and have unprecedented access to areas of the industry that most of us wouldn’t be able to see – so if you haven’t seen them already, here is a selection of must watch medical programmes that could teach us a lot.
24 Hours in A&E
This is a programme that has turned into a massive hit for Channel 4 – and it’s easy to see why. It’s a gripping documentary series which follows a trauma response team in a central London hospital – dealing with a range of emergencies which range from road traffic collisions to heart attacks. The stories are impeccably told, and with interviews from family members and loved ones adding to the drama and emotional impact of the show. It teaches us a lot about how people operate in stressful and critical moments, and from prime time television, gives a candid and often never seen before insight into the operation of first response and critical care. When available, episodes can be seen here.
One Born Every Minute
It’s something most people experience at some stage in their life – but in reality we know very little about the individual stories behind childbirth and pregnancy. One Born Every Minute gives unprecedented access to the midwives and mothers to be in the UK, and documents powerfully and poignantly the impact of bringing new life into the world. When available, episodes can be seen here.
The English Surgeon
Sometimes medicine needs a pioneer and a cutting-edge figure. In the award winning documentary The English Surgeon, filmmaker Geoffrey Smith follows the moving account of neurosurgeon Henry Marsh’s quest to improve the lives of people in a rural, antiquated hospital in the Ukraine. It’s clear that Marsh is driven by the innate desire to help others – and this documentary provides an emotionally charged account of life as one of the world’s foremost brain surgeons. Find out more at www.theenglishsurgeon.com.
An Hour To Save Your Life
Medical science often claims that it is the first hour of a critical patient’s care – while they are in the balance of life – that makes the most difference. The attention and medical treatment they receive in this first hour is paramount, and this gripping BBC documentary deals with this subject with care and poignancy. It provides never seen before access to specialists and first response teams, and a lot can be learnt about this process, that fortunately very few people get to see. When available, episodes can be seen here.
The Body in Question
This one takes us back into the archives – but it is worth including in this list as it was one of the first programmes to deal with the body and the idea of health, life, sickness and what it means to live in our own bodies. It was also the first, and one of the only programmes ever to dissect a human cadaver in an autopsy. Produced in the 1970s, and nominated for a BAFTA for best factual programme and most original series, this is certainly a programme worth delving into the archives for.
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