sat 13/07/2024

Malpractice, ITV1 review - she got into a mess on the NHS | reviews, news & interviews

Malpractice, ITV1 review - she got into a mess on the NHS

Malpractice, ITV1 review - she got into a mess on the NHS

Niamh Algar shines in powerful and timely medical drama

Niamh Algar (right) with Daniel Larkai as Dr Sam Henry and Priyanka Patel as Dr Ramya Morgan

This skilfully-woven drama about an NHS doctor being battered by professional and personal pressures is undoubtedly timely, and benefits greatly from being written by Grace Ofori-Attah, a former NHS doctor herself. Her inside knowledge lends weight and verisimilitude to scenes depicting admission procedures or the way the treacherous politics of NHS hierarchies work, and perhaps most significantly, how internal investigations are conducted.

And she couldn’t have asked for a finer or more harrowing performance than Niamh Algar delivers in the lead role of Dr Lucinda Edwards. She works in an A&E department in a Yorkshire hospital, and judging by first appearances she’s a tough-minded professional who’s on top of her game. However, things start to go pear shaped when a disturbed-looking man waving a pistol brings a gunshot victim into the hospital. A&E is overcrowded, and the team were already preoccupied with coping with a critically ill drug overdose casualty. Dr Edwards’ decision that she’ll take the gunshot case and delegate the overdose victim to the inexperienced Dr Ramya Morgan (Priyanka Patel) will turn out to have repercussions that echo disastrously down the show’s five episodes.

Malpractice, ITV1 Long story short, the overdose victim dies, following a chain of events that wasn’t really Edwards’ fault (they wouldn’t have occurred if there had been more beds and more staff, and her instructions to Dr Morgan weren’t correctly followed), but as senior doctor on duty she’s left holding the bag. Despite the firm support of senior medic Dr Leo Harris (James Purefoy, pictured above) she finds herself being subjected to a “fitness to practise” investigation. The hospital board is keen to avoid any suggestion that one of their patients has died needlessly – that would obviously be very bad news for the hospital trust’s business – but if somebody has to be thrown to the wolves Dr Edwards will do. Attempts to brush the whole thing off in an “accidents will happen and lessons will be learned” kind of way are scuppered when the overdose victim’s father, Sir Anthony Owusu (Brian Bovell), insists that an inquest be carried out.

But as investigations proceed, led by the irritating but dogged duo of doctors George Adjei and Norma Callahan (Jordan Kouamé and Helen Behan, pictured below) from the scary-sounding Medical Investigation Unit, it transpires that there’s much more bubbling under the surface. Mysterious phone messages link Dr Edwards to a series of drug overdose cases, while scenes of her popping pills to get herself ready to go to work hint that all may not be well behind her facade of steely efficiency. Her secretive meetings with a desperate-looking GP called Rob suggest a murky back story which threatens both her career and her relationship with husband Tom (Lorne MacFadyen).

Malpractice, ITV1 What lends Malpractice a resonance that reaches beyond being a mere thriller is the way Ofori-Attah has managed to bed her story in a framework that draws from the real-life stresses and crises that, as many know to their personal cost, are threatening to drive the NHS to destruction. The workings of the hospital’s board are depicted as cynical and self-serving, with at least one of its members involved in illegal profiteering. Dr Edwards’ state of advancing emotional turmoil is due at least partly to the traumatic overhang of Covid, in which she was blamed for unwittingly transmitting the disease to a patient. It’s a public disaster as well as a personal tragedy.

The workings of the hospital’s board are depicted as cynical and self-serving

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Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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