An NHS at breaking point is seen through the eyes of Holby City Hospital's faithful paramedics in the Casualty episode Thin Green Line (BBC One, 8.10pm, Saturday, December 10 2022 — see our TV Guide for listings).
The format-breaking, entirely improvised installment of the long-running medical drama follows four days in the lives of paramedics Jan Jenning (Di Botcher), Iain Dean (Michael Stevenson), Teddy Gowan (Milo Clarke) and Sah Brockner (Arin Smethurst) as they are stretched to the limit.
As our first responders deal with back-to-back accidents, emergencies, 'frequent flyers' and time-wasters, Jan makes an error with tragic consequences and Teddy risks his own life to save a patient.
Full spoilers are below...
Teddy's confidence is knocked...
As paramedics, Jan, Iain, Teddy and Sah never know what situation they'll be faced with when they're dispatched to an accident or emergency, and the first call of the week sees them cross paths with 'frequent flyer' Robbie, who has a head injury and sprained wrist. He's been drinking — his girlfriend has thrown him out again.
For their next call-out, Jan and Teddy find Sean Elliot with his girlfriend Atlanta, whose eyes and lips are swollen — she's allergic to nuts and the two epi-pens Sean has administered have done little to help. Jan and Teddy need to get her into the ED before her throat closes up.
In the back of the ambulance, Teddy manages to perform a complicated procedure to help Atlanta breathe but she's still unconscious. As they hand over to Dylan and Faith in the ED, Sean gives Teddy a hard time — he's not old enough to be a paramedic — and Teddy's confidence plummets.
The next day, Iain stays in the ambo while Teddy heads up to Scott Baker's flat. Teddy cautiously enters and is confronted by Scott having a psychotic breakdown; he's got a knife and he's been self-harming. Teddy gains Scott's trust, convincing him to put down the knife just as Iain appears — he tells Teddy he was reckless but brilliant, boosting Teddy's confidence.
Jan is pushed to the limit and makes a mistake...
Back from her mini-break, Jan arrives upbeat to the ambo station to find the others downbeat as their annual performance stats are in this week; a week that begins with treating Atlanta, who suffered an allergic reaction, and sees them cross paths with 'regular' Robbie — twice!
On Day 2, Jan and Sah are diverted from a shout to attend an RTC. After delivering the RTC patient to the ED, they get a call for the patient they had to leave in the first place. Jan's visibly frustrated when Control tells them to hold fire as a more serious call has come in.
As they’re getting out of the ambo to tend to the original patient, Control asks if they’ve made contact. Jan fibs and says yes, and apologises to George Hill who reveals an open fracture on his forearm, which he downplayed not wanting to cause bother.
On Day 3, Jan delivers the bad news to Teddy, Iain and Sah that the latest performance stats reveal they're the second-worst-performing team in the area. Jan and Sah soon cross paths with Robbie — the third time this week. He's put his hand through a glass door and Sah notices Jan's abruptness with Robbie this time.
By Day 4, social media influencer and patient Nikki Lawson is raging at having to wait in the ambo queue, and Jan snaps — cuts to social care mean wards can't get patients who don't need hospital care safely back out into the community, so new patients can't be admitted.
For their next call, Jan and Sah visit the home of Karen Porter, who admits to having lied to 999 that she'd suffered a stroke so that the ambulance would arrive quicker. As another call comes that someone has suffered a cardiac arrest, it looks like Karen's selfishness could have devastating consequences...
Later, Jan and Sah find Robbie in a terrible way — he's bleeding heavily and they need to get him to the ED urgently.
When a car blocks their way, Jan reverses the ambulance and there’s a thud – she's hit a pedestrian! Sah takes charge and both the pedestrian and Robbie are rushed to the ED for treatment. And it's not long before Jan's day from hell, goes from bad to worse...
Watch Casualty on Saturday, December 10 2022 at 8.10pm on BBC One.
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With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for WhatToWatch.com, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!
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