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Matron, Medicine and Me

Series 1

Episode 5: Eric Knowles

Duration: 45 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC One HDLatest broadcast: on BBC One Wales

Eric Knowles looks at the development of the NHS through his own harrowing personal experience as a child. When Eric was nine, he was hospitalised for six weeks with suspected leukaemia. The experience was lonely but not without its perks and the toys he was given sparked an interest in collecting which has never left him.

Eric relives this experience by travelling the route he would have taken to hospital in a 1960s ambulance, complete with retired ambulance driver. After weeks of testing, Eric was finally diagnosed with glandular fever rather than leukaemia. Although being severely ill, his family were spared a disease that was then a death sentence. Eric meets with oncologist Dr Margaret Rokicka to discover how such a mistake could have been made. He also finds out that other advances have allowed the NHS to cure most childhood leukaemia. While at the hospital, he meets with a young patient who is currently receiving treatment. Remembering his experience as a porter at an auction house, Eric spends a shift with hospital porters Steven Shaw and Andy McHale. It's tough physical work that but it's steering the trolleys that Eric has real difficulties with.

Proud of his north west roots, Eric also travels to Manchester to visit the hospital that was chosen to launch the NHS back in 1948. Eric finds out that the NHS had a difficult birth. He also talks to a group of people recovering from cancer about their experiences of the NHS today. Finally, Eric makes a personal journey to visit the daughter of the Burnley paediatrician who treated him all those years ago. He learns of the dedication of the doctor who shunned white coats and would take all the family to visit patients on Christmas day. Show less

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