This acclaimed, hard-hitting series examining the failings of the NHS was made by Thames Television’s Euston Films, produced by Verity Lambert and scripted by the award-winning G.F. Newman (Law and Order, Judge John Deed).
Screened in 1983, when the consequences of NHS spending cuts were becoming increasingly apparent and for-profit culture loomed large, The Nation’s Health detailed the dismaying experiences of a young, newly qualified female doctor; it also questioned what Newman sees as the inherently damaging doctor-patient relationship, and dramatised a disturbing loss of humanity within the medical profession.
Against a background of NHS cuts, the idealistic and compassionate Dr. Jessie Marvill joins the surgical staff at St. Clair’s, a large teaching hospital. As her training takes her through different departments, her illusions are shattered one by one amid an ego-driven culture in which patients have been dehumanised, botched operations are routinely covered up, wards are sold and pharmaceutical interests dominate. At odds with many of her colleagues, Jessie increasingly comes to question the wisdom and ethics of her chosen profession…
As well as spending several months as a trainee nurse, closely observing procedure in wards and admin departments to gain insight into his subject, Newman cast qualified nurses and actors with first-hand experience in medicine. The result is an investigative drama filmed with documentary style precision, which is impassioned and acute in its portrayal of what many saw as a closed, monolithic institution in terminal decline.
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