Not a moment is wasted in new ITV miniseries Malpractice as it drops viewers straight into the deep end of a hectic shift at A&E. Senior doctor Lucinda Edwards (Censor’s Niamh Algar) is waiting on a drug overdose victim to arrive. But just as they begin treatment of the young woman, an unexpected situation causes her to leave and (after some hesitation) put the care of the patient into the hands of one of her inexperienced junior doctors. However, a miscommunication results in the patient’s death, and a formal investigation into the matter begins after the dead girl’s father raises a formal complaint. What starts as a compelling exploration of the moral grey areas of medicine quickly spirals into a far grander conspiracy.
Written by Grace Ofori-Attah (who was formerly an NHS doctor), this five-part medical thriller provides a sharp insight into the complexity of the situation as it unfolds. Carefully tracing over the various variables which could have led to the girl’s death, Ofori-Attah underscores the importance that each decision has in the high-pressure environment of an A&E ward. Adding to this sense of urgency is Boiling Point’s Philip Barantini’s direction, who brings all the chaos and stress of a restaurant kitchen to the ward. Nowhere is this intensity best felt than in a selection of squeamish sequences in which the doctors perform emergency procedures on patients.
As the plot thickens, and the show moves into the realms of a grander conspiracy, the drama and pacing only become tauter, never missing a beat. Algar shines in the lead role and gives an outstanding performance, which hits hard when called for. There are points where the show touches upon difficult subjects, with it being Algar who guides audiences through them.
Less successful, though, is the showrunner’s attempts at starting a dialogue on drug addiction. Though the theme is a central plot point, the elements of social commentary don’t crop up enough to make as big an impact as the script wants them to. While this lack of depth does slightly detract from the finale’s emotional payoff, Malpractice nevertheless stands out as an excellently well-paced show that boasts a strong lead performance.
Malpractice is released on ITV and ITVX on 23rd April 2023.
Watch the trailer for Malpractice here: