BBC Two’s documentary series Hospital, a six part series, is a ground-breaking documentary that goes behind the scenes of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, one of the largest and busiest NHS trusts in the UK. The programme which aired in January showed the difficult choices faced by staff as they dealt with increasing demand and prepared for winter pressures.
As an integral part of the patient pathway, the Pathology department and the important work carried out by our staff did not avoid featuring in the series.
The first episode aired on Wednesday 11 January and had 2.1 million viewers during broadcast. During this episode the camera crew followed the journey of Simon who needed a major operation to remove a tumour in his oesophagus. Following surgery the tumour was taken to the cellular pathology laboratory at St Mary’s Hospital for analysis.
The tumour was anatomically described and dissected by Consultant Histopathologists Prof Rob Goldin and Dr Mike Osborn and then processed. Once the tumour was processed, the block was seen being cut by a Biomedical Scientist for staining. The slides produced allowed Prof Goldin to report on the tumour and the case is discussed at the Multidisciplinary Team meeting where important discussions around the margins being clear of tumour are carried out.
Episode three follows the stories of patients being treated by Consultant Neurosurgeon Kevin O’Neill at Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith. Kevin operates on patient Phil as an emergency as his fast-growing brain tumour is causing increasing paralysis. Once removed the brain tumour is sent to the cellular pathology department at Charing Cross hospital for investigation and to ascertain whether the tumour was malignant or not.
Dr Paul Lewis, Consultant Neuropathologist, explains the involvement of pathology and the crucial input that the laboratory has in the diagnosis of such patients. During the surgery, the entire tumour was removed and a piece of tissue was taken for a frozen sectioned technique whereby a slide was produced and stained allowing Dr. Lewis to provide a quick diagnosis. This was then confirmed with fixed-formalin paraffin embedded tissue; the tissue is fixed in formaldehyde and hardened with chemicals and paraffin wax, thin slices are cut using microtomes and stained in a glass slide. The differential staining in the nuclei and cytoplasm and the differential arrangement of cells allows Dr. Lewis to feedback the good news that the tumour was completely removed.
In addition to the two Cellular Pathology cases featured in detail, the work of pathology can be seen to be integral to the management of patients at the Trust. In the program viewers watched pre-operative bloods being collected, Blood Transfusion units and treatment being discussed and patient results providing guidance to clinicians for the management of their patients. The Trust has now agreed to a second series of Hospital being filmed so look out for more Pathology involvement when the program airs in the summer.
Biomedical Scientist working on a microtome at Charing Cross Hospital