Truth is the first Casualty of medical dramas
Dr David Turner
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I’m not in the habit of watching television medical dramas, unless it is something written by Jed Mercurio, but recently I happened to see an episode of ‘Casualty’ and my rating? Well, let’s just say the Spanish Tomatina festival would struggle to provide me with enough raw material to throw at the writers.
This particular episode featured an ambulance attending to convey an otherwise healthy teenager to hospital with a sprained ankle.
I was just about to email the producers to ask where this magical kingdom of ambulances on demand is located, when the same paramedics, after depositing the teenager in a virtually empty A&E department, were called out to attend to a sick dog.
Now, the paramedics were not aware they were being called out to see a sick dog, but on discovering the patient was of the four-legged variety, instead of using some choice four lettered words and driving off, they proceeded to treat the dog for dehydration.
There are those who will say it is just a fictional drama, but in my opinion, this sort of fiction is extremely damaging. Going out on prime time on a Saturday evening, this is portraying an unrealistic view of emergency departments about as far removed from the truth as it is possible to get.
When Joe Public sees TV programmes that feature people calling ambulances for ankle sprains, can we then blame them when they pitch up at A&E with coughs and colds?
When they see view paramedics standing around in A&Ediscussing which pub they are going to that evening, can we really not expect them to think one of the reasons casualty departments are so busy is because the staff aren’t working hard enough?
Unfortunately, people prefer to believe fiction rather than boring fact (look no further than Brexit for evidence of this) so perhaps the BBC’s New Year’s resolution could be to inject a bit of reality into its medical dramas. Maybe they should give Jed a call.
Dr David Turner is a GP in North West London