Euthanasia, counterfeit drugs – Holby City

January 20, 2007

(Warning, contains plot spoilers!) In this episode, If the heart lies (October 10th 2006,  BBC1, TRILT code 005C80FB), the autumn 2006 season of Holby City continues with its strong representation of bioethic themes.  The issues of both counterfeit medicines entering legitimate supply lines and Gina Hope’s bid for euthanasia in Switzerland continue from the previous episode Taking liberties (Gina’s story is completed in the next episode, Moondance).  There is also a short, but potentially useful, discussion about saving a premature foetus against the wishes of the mother (26:12 to 27:45).

The sections developing the euthanasia storyline are 5:44-6:58, 8:10-9:30, 20:32-22:05, 29:21-31:00, 32:06-33:49, 38:22-40:30, 43:15-44:56, 52:10-53:42 and 55:16-57:06.  Of these, the discussion between Gina and Connie at 8:10 is possibly the most useful in isolation.

The counterfeit medicines plot is shown at 2:51-4:43, 14:19-15:41, 27:45-29:20, 40:32-41:35 and 48:50-50:10.  The best ‘stand alone’ section is probably the first of these, in which Bradley Hume, the assistant hospital manager, discusses the substandard drugs with the pharmaceutical supplier.  She promises to compensate the hospital but, as we discover in the clip 49 minutes in, she flees – leaving her ‘office’ and pill production machinery behind.

Euthanasia – Holby City

December 28, 2006

With her motor neurone disease getting worse, Gina decides to take matters into her own hands and plans to seek assisted suicide in Switzerland (see also the episode Moondance). The main focus of the episode Taking liberties (BBC1, October 3rd 2006; TRILT identifier 005C67BF) is her completion of necessary arrangements at Holby.  These include collecting together her favourite mementoes from her marriage to Elliott and persuading Connie to help her with the plans.  There are many sections of this episode where this theme is developed, including 11:38-12:31, 14:18-16:51, 23:14-24:24, 31:55-32:25, 33:20-34:33, 42:43-44:38 and 53:52-56:03.  The most helpful clips for raising the issues are the first two listed, which deal with the motivations for going to Switzerland, and the final clip where Gina and Connie fill in the online application form accompanied by a recording of Gina’s farewell message to Elliott.  The section from 42:43 where Elliott confides in Connie that he also seeks a swift end to Gina’s suffering may also be helpful.

As is so often the case with this series, there are two further subplots with a bioethical theme.  One involves Dr Joseph Byrne prescribing himself medication, but no isolated clips from this episode would really help in explaining the situation.  Of greater potential, however, are the revelations that some of the medicines being provided from the hospital pharmacy are counterfeit.  This storyline reflects a genuine concern that there are fake medicines finding their way into the legitimate supply lines in the UK and elsewhere (see, for example, BBC news report Fake medicines ‘a growing menace’).  Clips discussing this theme are at 24:55-25:35, 41:03-41:36 and 51:17-51:50.