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Series 1

Every day, our medical staff at the Royal University Hospital in Stoke take difficult life and death decisions.  Time is a precious co​mmodity when you are critically ill. And for all the patients in this episode, the speed of the decisions and the treatments that follow are vital.

Geoff arrives after being struck down with an excruciating head pain that has left him semi-conscious. He can't open his eyes and something is clearly very wrong. Rushing him down for a scan, the programme follows the staff as they diagnose what's wrong and how to treat him. It's an emotional journey for his family and the medics that takes Geoff from A&E to the operating theatre, to a realisation that changes his life.

Time is critical too for Alan, who is rushed into A&E after collapsing in the street. Every second counts as the team carry out an urgent struggle to keep him alive and stabilise him.

Stephen is rushed to hospital having just suffered a potentially lethal stroke.  He cannot speak and seems to be paralysed down his right side. Within minutes, he is whisked to theatre to undergo a cutting-edge operation to have a blood clot removed to restore the supply to his brain. It's an operation fraught with risk. A wrong movement can cause a brain haemorrhage but getting it right could save his life.

Finally, Adam is flown in by air ambulance after being involved in a car crash that has left him with open chest and head wounds.

This engaging episode of Critical Condition delivers an intimate portrait of life-saving medicine through the eyes of those who live it – the staff and the patients.​​

Every day, the medical staff at the Royal University Hospital in Stoke take difficult life and death decisions.  This gripping documentary series, filmed with extraordinary access to a hospital trauma unit and other emergency departments, charts the vital interventions, actions and medical strategies that the specialist consultants and their teams experience while delivering immediate life-saving care.

Ground-breaking in its approach, with no commentary, and close up innovative camera work more  akin to fast paced drama, Critical Condition follows in incredible detail the staff and patients as they confront the realities of emergency medicine. Reflecting the emotionally draining fast-paced daily workload, the series puts viewers right at the heart of this life and death battle. It's a powerful, moving and ultimately awe-inspiring look at how staff work to save the lives of their sickest and most injured patients.

As the staff know all too well, life is precious and can so easily be turned upside down.  Kieran is flown in by helicopter after being involved in a major car accident. He is critically ill with multiple injuries and two ruptured arteries. The first battle is to try and stabilise him, before senior doctors can decide what the best next treatment is for Kieran.

Gary is in the Coronary Care Unit and has a life-threatening condition. His aorta, the main artery in the body, has torn. He requires urgent surgery to prevent a catastrophic rupture and any further bleeding, but the operation is dangerous. One in four people don't survive the operation. But with every minute making a difference, he has to make an instant decision and say goodbye to his family before going to theatre. 

Roy arrives at hospital as something is affecting his thinking. He's seen by the stroke team, who discover he has a blood clot in his neck and needs emergency surgery to remove it. Roy's wife Tina, waits anxiously in the corridor as the extraordinary procedure is carried out.

And finally, Jonty arrives after falling through a skylight on a roof. He has numerous broken bones across his body, but the team are worried that he might also have serious internal bleeding. They urgently need to investigate what else might be going on.​

The third episode of our critically-acclaimed documentary Critical Conditionfollows in incredible detail the staff and patients as they confront the realities of emergency medicine.  

Emergency medicine is about dealing with consequences for both the staff and patients alike and in this episode  John arrives after being stabbed numerous times in his abdomen. He is in a critical condition and the team must act fast to find out if his organs have been affected. After stabilising him, he's quickly taken for a scan to reveal what's wrong and then rushed straight to theatre for emergency surgery to save his life. But the operation will leave him with lifelong complications.

Adam arrives by helicopter after an accident playing football. He's just 17 and he's lost all sensation below his waist. While undergoing an MRI scan to see the extent of any spinal damage, his mother and father sit anxiously waiting for news and the effects it might have on his life.

Today is not a good day for John. His aortic aneurism has burst and unless he is treated he will bleed to death. But his health, age and condition are all against him. Now his doctors must face the most difficult decision of all – whether they should try and save John's life by recommending a major operation or instead take the decision that further treatment is not in his best interests.

Finally, Kevin is wheeled in having been knocked flying and unconscious by a cow's hoof on the dairy farm where he works. Worried about a brain bleed, staff fast-track him to CT, aware that any trauma to the brain could affect his ability to do his very physical job. Will this be the end of his farming career?​

In our fourth and final episode of our gripping documentary series, filmed with extraordinary access to Royal Stoke Univerity Hospital's Major Trauma Centre and other emergency departments, David is rushed in after being attacked with a machete. ​​

His deep head and neck wounds are shocking. As they fight to stabilise him, his blood pressure drops and the team need to take urgent action. They must also get David to the CT scanner as fast as they can to properly assess his injuries. Every moment counts.

There's immediate concern too for Richard as he arrives at the hospital complaining of chest pain. He thinks it may be indigestion but is shocked to hear he is having a life-threatening heart attack that requires emergency surgery. There is no time to waste as he is wheeled straight up to the cardiac theatre. 

Neil, a motorbike racer, is rushed in after coming off his sidecar at over 100 mph. This was meant to be his last race before finally retiring from the sport. He needs to be assessed very carefully as  everyone is concerned that he may have serious spinal injuries as well as damage to his neck.

Finally, 17-year-old Jack is helicoptered in after falling from a substantial height on to his head. The staff are concerned about possible swelling in his brain and immediately call a neurosurgeon to insert a probe three centimetres into his brain to monitor the pressure and whether he will need life-saving brain surgery.​

Patient Stories

Series 1 introduced us to a whole host of incredible patient stories. Here are just a few of them​...

​​The family of great-granddad Alan Fouracre, whose brush with death was retold in last night's first episode of our exclusive documentary on Channel 5 Critical Condition, today spoke of their emotion watching the dedication and commitment of UHNM's staff to save his life.

Pensioner Alan Fouracre, from Bucknall, had survived three other cardiac episodes in his earlier life. And while on a trip to Hanley the 84-year-old fell to the floor with a passerby performing CPR providing him with invaluable extra minutes before the ambulances arrived and took him to hospital.

His wife, Maureen described the emotion watching how the highly skilled team, led by emergency medicine consultant Dr Chris Pickering at Royal Stoke University Hospital, give chest compressions, electric shocks, scans and medication, all while making sure grandad-of-four Alan kept breathing.

"We watched it on our own and it was very emotional last night. I wasn't there when Alan was first admitted by ambulance and hadn't realised until I watched the documentary just how many people had played a part in helping keep him alive.

"It was truly amazing to see what the doctor and the team around him did. It's difficult to express how grateful we are for what they have done."

Alan's heart stopped working for 15 minutes and Maureen and her daughter Karen were warned he may have suffered from brain damage.

But a specialist gave him a memory test - and he got every question right.

After a two-week stay, Alan and his new pacemaker and £20,000 defibrillator to monitor his heart were allowed home following the incident in October.

Maureen added: "We were told that Alan is robust and it is strength and determination which has pulled him through along with the fantastic care he has received at the hospital. I can't praise all the staff who helped him enough."​

A 28-year-old man from Newcastle-under-Lyme escaped death after being attacked with a machete and suffering injuries close to decapitation thanks to the life-saving nurses and doctors at the University Hospital of North Midlands.

David Allen, who has learning disabilities and schizophrenia, was rushed into the major trauma centre at Royal Stoke University Hospital after being attacked with a machete in October last year. His head and neck wounds were so deep doctors feared he would die.

His case will feature on tonight's (3 APRIL) final episode of Critical Condition on Channel 5. The ground-breaking four-part documentary featuring the medical staff at RSUH has received critical acclaim and follows in incredible detail the staff and patients as they confront the realities of emergency medicine.

On tonight's episode Dr Jose Martinez-Acacio, emergency medicine consultant explains his injury just missed vessels in his neck and if they had been a tiny bit deeper at the front, he would have died.

The father-of-three was left with life changing injuries and still suffers the consequences of the attack now. He finds it difficult to communicate; is paralysed in his right arm and can only walk short distances with the aid of a quad-stick; the rest of the time he needs to use a wheelchair.

In the episode his mum Teresa Allen said: "I never in a million years thought I would be that mum being told that my son's life hangs in the balance now and it's up to him to fight."

Today Teresa, who lives in Orkney, added: "My heart sunk to pits of my stomach when I was told. I panicked because I couldn't get off the island. I stayed up all night packing and got on the 6.30am ferry and we drove all day and into the evening to get to him in Stoke - 24 hours after being told.

"I am gobsmacked he is still alive but I can say he is the strongest man I know. It's not just his physical strength and but his strength of character is amazing – he has really fought. He still has his sense of humour and that has been important for all of us not just him."

A registered nurse Teresa said she had already seen the extent of his injuries and care at RSUH in a preview of the documentary and hoped it would encourage people to think twice about using ambulance services and A&E appropriately.

"If anything is to come from David's injuries I want people to see why they are sometimes left waiting in the A&E waiting rooms. The people who come to A&E with a broken finger nail and those who complain because they have been waiting for a long time need to see what is going on on the other side of doors and that there are amazing people saving the lives of those who really desperately need care and treatment, " she said.

"As a nurse I felt strongly before David's attack about timewasters making hoax calls to the ambulance service and about  people in A&E when they don't need to be and now I've been of both sides and feel even more strongly about it."

Wednesday's final episode will also feature Richard as he arrives at the hospital complaining of chest pain. He thinks it may be indigestion but is shocked to hear he is having a life-threatening heart attack that requires emergency surgery and Neil, a motorbike racer, who is rushed in after coming off his sidecar at over 100 mph. ​

The father of one was transferred to the hospital's Coronary Care Unit where life-saving scans and tests revealed his aorta, the main artery in the body, had torn.  His urgent surgery was to prevent a catastrophic rupture and any further bleeding. One in four people don't survive the operation.

His life-saving story will feature in Channel 5's ground-breaking documentary Critical Condition on Wednesday 20 March at 9pm. The documentary follows in incredible detail the staff and patients at Royal Stoke University Hospital as they confront the realities of delivering immediate life-saving care.

Today Gary, from Tean, Cheadle, said: "I had been in Belfast for a few days and had picked up a bit of a tummy bug and as I was getting over that I started to feel that every time I lay down someone was sitting on my chest.  I thought it was all connected. I left it three days before calling 111, I just thought I'd pulled a muscle or something so was quite shocked when they sent an ambulance immediately.

"Once I got to hospital I had a few quick checks before being admitted to the Coronary Care Unit and within about 10 minutes of having a full scan they were down telling me I needed heart surgery almost immediately."

The 49-year-old required urgent surgery to prevent a catastrophic rupture and any further bleeding. The operation is dangerous and one in four people don't survive the operation.

With every minute making a difference, he had to make an instant decision whether to go ahead and say goodbye to his family before going to theatre. 

"The risk of you dying is actually pretty large. We are talking probably in the 20 to 25 per cents, but we have to weigh up the risks and benefits really and potentially the longer we leave this per say there is a chance this thing may rupture completely, and if that happens you won't survive," Gary is told in the documentary.

Gary said: "Everything changed straight away with a real sense of urgency but at the time I had no worries about it all, I knew it wasn't my time so I said goodbye to my Dad and my boy with no worries at all.

"They took me down to surgery and I woke up nine hours later, the following two days are a bit of a blur but I was discharged three days after the operation. I am still having rehab so it is low going but I am getting there," he added.

Richard Warwick, consultant cardiologist, who performed the life-saving procedure said: "We very seldom have emergencies when it comes to heart operations but having an aortic dissection is one of those rare occasions when it falls into this emergency bracket."

No stranger to the emergency department at RSUH, Gary, 49, has been involved in a number of bike accidents and has 13 pins in his arms and legs.

"Compared to the surgery I have received following bike accidents, this has been the most painless and easy to recover from, I can't thank the doctors and nurses enough for the care I have been given."

The next episode of Critical Condition also includes Kieran who is flown in by helicopter after being involved in a major car accident. He is critically ill with multiple injuries and two ruptured arteries. The first battle is to try and stabilise him, before senior doctors can decide what the best next treatment is for Kieran.

Roy arrives at hospital as something is affecting his thinking. He's seen by the stroke team, who discover he has a blood clot in his neck and needs emergency surgery to remove it. Roy's wife Tina, waits anxiously in the corridor as the extraordinary procedure is carried out.

And finally, Jonty arrives after falling through a skylight on a roof. He has numerous broken bones across his body, but the team are worried that he might also have serious internal bleeding. They urgently need to investigate what else might be going on.

Steve Cropper, an engineer, (pictured) was left with life-threatening injuries after being trapped under the car following an accident while out for a motorbike ride along the A5 near Llangollen in Wales.

The dad of three and granddad of seven from Colwyn Bay was airlifted to UHNM's Major Trauma Centre and his story will feature on this Wednesday's (27 March) episode of Channel 5's gripping documentary Critical Condition.

RSUH is one of 22 Major Trauma Centre's in the country and covers a geography of Shropshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and North Wales.

Steve, who has ridden motorbikes since he was 16 years old, spent more than four weeks in hospital in Stoke following the accident, which was his first. He said: "It was a beautiful day and was probably my last ride before packing the bikes away for winter. I was stationary and a Range Rover pulled up behind me followed by a passenger bus but the bus didn't stop and the Range Rover just went straight over me.

"I was trapped underneath and struggling to breath but somehow I managed to pull myself out. I was conscious but I think people thought I was dead because they wouldn't come close. Then the police and ambulance arrived and I was taken to Stoke by air ambulance."

Emergency medicine consultant Phil Morgan, said: "Usually when patients are involved in these high energy impacts they can appear to be well and then you find out they have lots of injuries that are not clinically apparent on the scene.

"If someone has had a Range Rover go over them they usually have got a few injuries to show for it."

Steve, who restores classic cars, suffered a pelvis fracture, broke nearly all his ribs, dislocated his shoulder and required emergency surgery to stabilise his spine.

He said: "It was a very traumatic experience and I am still living with dealing with those consequences. I have weekly physiotherapy and I'm full of aches and pains but given the fact the hospital told me not to expect too much in the first year I am doing really well.

"I am made of stern stuff but it is thanks to the expert care from fantastic staff at Stoke that my recovery has been so good and can I can live to tell the tale."

As for getting back on his bike again, Steve said he was taking each day at a time. "I absolutely would get back on my bike again but I have promised my partner that I won't put her through the worry again. My children know how much the bikes mean to me also but it was such a shock for them too so we've agreed we'll leave the bikes for now."

Tomorrow's  episode also features John, who  arrives after being stabbed numerous times in his abdomen. He is in a critical condition and the team must act fast to find out if his organs have been affected.

Adam arrives by helicopter after an accident playing football. He's just 17 and he's lost all sensation below his waist. While undergoing an MRI scan to see the extent of any spinal damage, his mother and father sit anxiously waiting for news and the effects it might have on his life.

John's aortic aneurism has burst and unless he is treated he will bleed to death. But his health, age and condition are all against him. And finally Kevin is wheeled in having been knocked flying and unconscious by a cow's hoof on the dairy farm where he works. ​