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Cardiac Arrest (1994-96)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

'Suffer Little Children', originally transmitted on BBC1, 7 May 1996
Directed by Jo Johnson, written by John MacUre

Caught between attending a hospital cricket match between consultants and junior doctors and an afternoon out with his girlfriend, Dr Rajesh Rajah is called to examine a sick baby, Haley. Haley's mother, Louise, and her furtive boyfriend, Neil, maintain that they have no idea how the child became unwell.

Facing a manslaughter charge over a botched operation, Dr Phil Kirkby appeals to Dr Graham Turner, a consultant who is implicated in the matter but who wants Phil to take full responsibility. Phil approaches Ernest Docherty, an administrator, and explains the situation. Ernest is appalled, but assures Phil that he can help.

The inexperienced Dr Liz Reid fails to resuscitate a patient. She asks Dr Sarah Hudson, a consultant, if she can undergo further training in cardiac life support. Dr Hudson agrees, but is concerned about Liz's apparent lack of ability.

Forced to remain at the hospital as the cricket match commences and his girlfriend berates him over the phone, Rajesh shares a confidence with Neil, who confesses that he dropped Haley in the bath, but hasn't told Louise as he wants to prove himself a decent stepfather. Haley suddenly falls unconscious. Paediatrician Amanda Harding advises Rajesh carry out a CT scan, which reveals that Haley has brain damage. The doctors confront Neil, who insists that he did not inflict any further injury on Haley.

Meanwhile, with help from two of Rajesh's cricketer friends posing as casualty staff, the doctors are winning the match against the consultants. When the players break for lunch, Graham and Phil are called to a meeting by Ernest and hospital manager Paul Tennant, who has been suspended over the malpractice affair, as has his ex-girlfriend, Sister Julie Novac. Paul suggests the hospital fabricate certain evidence and blame the malpractice on an unattributable clerical error. The hospital will settle out of court with the deceased's family, all action against Kirkby will be discontinued, and Paul and Novac will be reinstated. Graham, however, must step down as chairman of the consultants' committee to be succeeded by Ernest. The governor approves this strategy and the matter is settled, much to Graham's chagrin.

Louise eventually admits to having shaken her daughter when she refused to sleep, and Rajesh explains that Haley will now be permanently disabled. Rajesh finally leaves for the cricket match, but arrives too late.