News

Chilling scene in ITV’s Covid drama Breathtaking shows sobbing medics turn off the life support of a beloved nurse who succumbed to the virus


Hauntingly realistic scenes in tonight’s Breathtaking episode depict medics being confronted over the disastrous Covid discharge policy, which is blamed for killing thousands of care home residents.  

In ITV‘s gripping three-part drama illustrating the horrors NHS workers endured in the pandemic, Dr Abbey Henderson is forced to send an elderly man back into the struggling care sector without testing him. 

Under guidance designed to free up NHS beds ahead of an expected Covid wave, thousands of unswabbed hospitalised patients were discharged into care homes – despite them being potentially infected.

Just days later, Dr Henderson – played by Joanne Froggatt – is branded a ‘murderer’ by a woman whose father is the eleventh Covid case in the home since the infected patient was discharged. Seven of those residents died. 

Although Downton Abbey star Froggatt’s character is made-up, the powerful scripts in the drama are not.

Later the same episode — the second to air — features an equally upsetting scene which TV critics have described as ‘so realistic it will break your heart’.

Later the same episode ¿ the second to air ¿ features an equally upsetting scene which TV critics have described as 'so realistic it will break your heart'. The first episode saw young healthcare assistant Divina start to show signs of having Covid when caring for patients. Minutes later, Divina ¿ of an Hispanic background ¿ is stretchered into her own ward (pictured) after deteriorating rapidly. She is whisked into intensive care and placed in an induced coma

Later the same episode — the second to air — features an equally upsetting scene which TV critics have described as ‘so realistic it will break your heart’. The first episode saw young healthcare assistant Divina start to show signs of having Covid when caring for patients. Minutes later, Divina – of an Hispanic background – is stretchered into her own ward (pictured) after deteriorating rapidly. She is whisked into intensive care and placed in an induced coma

Tonight, Dr Henderson and her colleagues are left with no option but to tearfully call Divina's partner to break the news that palliative care is the only option. After making the agonising decision to switch off her ventilator, Dr Henderson sobs as she accompanies a nurse to Divina's room for a final time

Tonight, Dr Henderson and her colleagues are left with no option but to tearfully call Divina’s partner to break the news that palliative care is the only option. After making the agonising decision to switch off her ventilator, Dr Henderson sobs as she accompanies a nurse to Divina’s room for a final time

As each piece of equipment is switched off one by one, a nurse reads heartbreaking messages of love to Divina written by colleagues and family members. It is Dr Henderson's responsibility to then share the news among staff (pictured)

As each piece of equipment is switched off one by one, a nurse reads heartbreaking messages of love to Divina written by colleagues and family members. It is Dr Henderson’s responsibility to then share the news among staff (pictured)

The first episode, which aired Monday, saw young healthcare assistant Divina start to show signs of having Covid when caring for patients.

She was exposed to Covid as hospital teams struggled to get hold of adequate PPE and was forced to fashion her own from bin bags.

Minutes later, Divina – of an Hispanic background – is stretchered into her own ward after deteriorating rapidly. She is whisked into intensive care and placed in an induced coma. 

Tonight, Dr Henderson and her colleagues are left with no option but to tearfully call Divina’s partner to break the news that palliative care is the only option.

After making the agonising decision to switch off her ventilator, Dr Henderson sobs as she accompanies a nurse to Divina’s room for a final time. 

As each piece of equipment is switched off one by one, a nurse reads heartbreaking messages of love to Divina written by colleagues and family members. 

It is Dr Henderson’s responsibility to then share the news among staff.

The much-loved colleague’s funeral, watched on Zoom by hospital staff, showcased the reality for families who lost loved ones during the darkest spell of the pandemic. 

Breathtaking’s plot all happens through Dr Henderson’s eyes at one fictional city hospital in England. 

Tonight’s episode, called Delay, covers the critical month of April 2020, weeks into the UK’s first full lockdown

Following the fallout of Dr Henderson’s devastating discharge decision, the drama sees herself and colleague Dr Ant Vyas, a medical registrar, meet the hospital CEO. 

But they lay the blame squarely with ‘orders’ from the Department of Health. 

Archival footage of Matt Hancock, then-Health Secretary, later falsely assures the public everything is under control.

‘Even if there were enough tests for clinically well people, it takes five days to get results back. We can’t wait that long,’ the CEO says. 

In December, in front of the Covid inquiry, Mr Hancock defended the contentious policy, arguing every decision on discharging care home patients in the pandemic was ‘a choice between difficult options’.

He said: ‘The only choice is between bad options here.

‘I fear that if we had left those patients in hospital, those who were medically fit to discharge, there is a high likelihood that more would have caught Covid and the problem could have been bigger.’

Mandatory Covid testing for hospitalised patients returning to care homes was not introduced until mid-April, three weeks into the first lockdown.

The National Audit Office estimates 25,000 people were discharged from hospitals to care homes between March 17 and April 15 and not all were tested. 

Thousands of care home residents are feared to have died as a direct result.

Dr Henderson ¿ played by Joanne Froggatt (pictured) ¿ is branded a 'murderer' by a woman whose father is the eleventh Covid case in the home since the infected patient was discharged. Seven of those residents died. Although Downton Abbey star Froggatt's character is made-up, the powerful scripts in the drama are not

Dr Henderson – played by Joanne Froggatt (pictured) – is branded a ‘murderer’ by a woman whose father is the eleventh Covid case in the home since the infected patient was discharged. Seven of those residents died. Although Downton Abbey star Froggatt’s character is made-up, the powerful scripts in the drama are not 

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows there were more than 43,000 fatalities in care homes in England and Wales that involved Covid in the first two years of the pandemic

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows there were more than 43,000 fatalities in care homes in England and Wales that involved Covid in the first two years of the pandemic

On April 2, 2020, Government guidance setting out restrictions on care home visiting is published. The guidance said 'family and friends should be advised not to visit care homes, except next of kin in exceptional situations such as end of life.' It added: 'alternatives to in-person visiting should be explored, including the use of telephones or video, or the use of plastic or glass barriers between residents and visitors'

On April 2, 2020, Government guidance setting out restrictions on care home visiting is published. The guidance said ‘family and friends should be advised not to visit care homes, except next of kin in exceptional situations such as end of life.’ It added: ‘alternatives to in-person visiting should be explored, including the use of telephones or video, or the use of plastic or glass barriers between residents and visitors’ 

Later in the episode during a haunting discussion with Dr Henderson after the failed meeting, Dr Vyas notes, ‘there’s no plan is there?’

Revealing his father had been admitted to hospital a week earlier with the virus, he then asks her: ‘Have you made a will?’ 

Elsewhere, in efforts to illustrate the other personal sacrifices made, Dr Henderson’s home life is touched upon, as she checks herself into a hotel.

Given her daughter is asthmatic and medically vulnerable, extra precautions and separation are necessary. 

But in a heartbreaking video call home, her teenage son accuses of her of abandoning her family to ‘look after everyone else’s’. 

‘You don’t even care about us. You can’t promise us you won’t die,’ he cries. 

Breathtaking is adapted from a memoir of the same name, authored by NHS palliative care doctor Dr Rachel Clarke.

It is co-written with Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio and Prasanna Puwanarajah, best known as an actor, most recently as Martin Bashir in The Crown. Both are also former doctors.

Clarke said their rule while writing was to put nothing in the script that didn’t happen somewhere in real life. 

In the run-up to the release of the episode, Froggatt said: ‘Abbey realises it’s not safe for her to go home.’

Elsewhere, in efforts to illustrate the personal sacrifices made, Dr Henderson's home life is also touched upon, as she checks herself into a hotel. Given Dr Henderson's daughter is asthmatic and medically vulnerable, extra precautions and separation are necessary. But in a heartbreaking video call home, her teenage son accuses of her of abandoning her family to 'look after everyone else's'

Elsewhere, in efforts to illustrate the personal sacrifices made, Dr Henderson’s home life is also touched upon, as she checks herself into a hotel. Given Dr Henderson’s daughter is asthmatic and medically vulnerable, extra precautions and separation are necessary. But in a heartbreaking video call home, her teenage son accuses of her of abandoning her family to ‘look after everyone else’s’

Breathtaking is adapted from a memoir of the same name, authored by NHS palliative care doctor Dr Rachel Clarke. Pictured, Dr Clarke appearing on Lorraine yesterday

Breathtaking is adapted from a memoir of the same name, authored by NHS palliative care doctor Dr Rachel Clarke. Pictured, Dr Clarke appearing on Lorraine yesterday

Prasanna Puwanarajah, who played journalist Martin Bashir in the season 5 on Netflix's royal drama 'The Crown' is another writer behind Breathtaking. Pictured here in London in November 2022.

Prasanna Puwanarajah, who played journalist Martin Bashir in the season 5 on Netflix’s royal drama ‘The Crown’ is another writer behind Breathtaking. Pictured here in London in November 2022. 

Writer, Jed Mercurio of Line of Duty fame, said Breathtaking followed a similar theme of the standards we expect in those who hold public office. Here Mercurio is pictured receiving his OBE medal in February 2022

Writer, Jed Mercurio of Line of Duty fame, said Breathtaking followed a similar theme of the standards we expect in those who hold public office. Here Mercurio is pictured receiving his OBE medal in February 2022

She added: ‘I read one piece written by a nurse about her experience of going to work every day. She was doing a 10 hour shift and would leave the hospital knowing there was one ITU bed that had become available with four patients on her ward that needed it.

‘She’d come back in the morning and know one of those patients will have got the bed, probably two of them would have died and one would still be there.

‘And that was just a daily occurrence. Imagine dealing with that emotionally every day and also being away from your family and being alone in poor quality accommodation where you don’t want to be. 

‘All you’re doing is living, breathing, eating and sleeping this horror.’ 

She said: ‘Every patient we focus on has their own story and emotional journey. That was very important because they’re not just numbers, they’re people’. 

In his pandemic diaries, serialised by the Daily Mail last year, Mr Hancock claimed hospital discharges were not solely to blame for the thousands of deaths in care homes.

Instead, he pointed the finger at infections being ‘brought in from the wider community, mainly by staff’.

Breathtaking episode two airs tonight on ITV1 at 9pm.  



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button