First Impressions

Part Eleven

More than a day had passed since Martin had been led away by the police. News had got through to his old colleagues that although he had been released on bail he'd been ordered to stay well away from the hospital. The board of directors had, naturally, fired him, and proceeded to read a statement to the press explaining the full details of his crime, which Ewart had later copied and pinned to the staff room notice board. In it they also praised the actions of Mr Plimmer and his team, and warned the public about the dangers of taking un-prescribed drugs. It was all what Ewart described as damage limitation and public relations; trying to show the hospital in a good light for the impending announcement about the permanent night shift.

However, whilst the news was becoming yesterday's chip paper in the outside world, within the walls of A&E it was still very much in the forefront of people's minds. An air of solemnity had descended amongst the majority of staff and particularly Charlie, as it dawned on them how much a so-called friend had lied, and for how long.

Charlie drove through the gates of the hospital in his yellow Beetle, replaying the events of the last several weeks over in his mind to work out if there were any signs that he should have picked up on. Now on familiar territory, he wasn't fully watching where he was going and so didn't notice a small red car driving too fast up behind him before swinging swiftly across his path. He slammed on the brakes and screeched to a stop, pushing hard on the horn as he did so. The other driver slowed, giving Charlie a chance to see that he'd narrowly avoided colliding with a young brunette, before she gave him a two-finger salute and roared off.

"Maniac!" he called after her, but she was too far away, and he continued to grumble to himself as he parked his car in the staff bay and went in begin his shift.


"Do you think Charlie's alright? He's seemed really quiet ever since the police came". Duffy asked Megan as they started shift on Saturday morning.

Megan stopped filling in her patient's card and glanced across the department to where he was standing. "I think he just has a lot on his mind, what with that unfortunate Martin business the other day".

"I suppose so…" Duffy replied, carefully scrutinising Charlie's troubled expression, whilst trying to look like she wasn't.

"Why don't you have a word with him? A problem shared and all that?"

Duffy shrugged, unsure whether it was as good an idea as it sounded. "I don't know Megan. Why'd he want to talk to me?"

"Never underestimate the power of a friendly ear. I'm sure he'd appreciate someone listening to him".

With a warm smile, Megan got back on with her work, leaving Duffy to think about her words. There seemed to be truth in what she'd said, Duffy knew from experience that having a good rant at anyone who offered to listen was often a good way of venting emotions and getting problems clear in your head. She resolved to offer her ear to Charlie, as soon as they got a break.


Ewart opened the new file up and laid it on his desk. He had all but memorised each of the CV's for the SHO's position, but it never hurt to go over them once more before he met an interviewee. This particular young woman, one Barbara Samuels, seemed a very promising candidate indeed, and he hoped that she'd prove herself when he met her in person.

The intercom system on his desk buzzed and his secretary informed him that Dr Samuels had arrived. He asked for her to come straight in and within seconds the door opened and a confident looking woman stepped into the room.

"Good morning Mr Plimmer"

"Dr Samuels" he acknowledged her, and stretched out his hand to shake. "Thank you for coming in. Please take a seat".

She settled herself on the chair opposite him, smoothing down the skirt of her suit and pushing her long brown hair behind her shoulders. "Well, thank you for inviting me. The permanent night shift sounds an intriguing concept".

"It's a lot more than that Dr Samuels; may I call you Barbara?"

"Certainly, but I prefer Baz".

He smiled and nodded his head, "Right, Baz, as I was saying it's a lot more than a concept. In just over three weeks it will be a reality, and as such, I am looking for an SHO to be a part of the regular team. Your consultant, Mr Stewart, is an old friend of mine and as you'll soon have finished your six months with him, he's suggested you for this position. And I must say, your references have been exemplary".

Baz tried to hide the broad smile that was threatening to take over her face. "That's very kind of you to say" she replied modestly.

"Are you interested in working in the emergency department?"

"Absolutely" she affirmed. In truth, it wouldn't have been her first choice, she'd always rather had her eye on a cardio-thoracic placement. A few years working her way up in the NHS before transferring to a private practice and making her name as a surgeon. Unfortunately, it was hard enough to get into surgery, let alone the higher profile areas. A six month stint in A&E was mandatory anyway, as it gave an opportunity to dabble in most areas of medicine, so it seemed sensible to get it out of the way as early as possible. Also a number of old medical school friends had worked in A&E and seemed to be of the opinion that if you could survive your internship there, you were ready for anything.

"That's what I like to hear! I'll just go through a little of what will be expected of you if we offer you the position here, then ask a few questions. After that, if there's anything more you'd like to know I would be happy to answer your questions. OK?"

"Yes, thank you" she answered, and Ewart launched into his speech.


At a quiet point in the shift Duffy saw Charlie enter the staff room and decided that now was as good as time as any to go and talk to him about the last few days. She smiled cheerfully to Charlie, who was prodding a Tupperware box full of leftover something-or-other with a fork. He looked up and returned the gesture.

"Last night's Chinese" he said to clarify just what the yellow-y-brown mess was. "I didn't want to waste it, but now I'm not so sure". He prodded it again as though he was half expecting it to flinch. "What do you reckon?"

Duffy scrunched up her nose. "I'd chuck it Charlie."

"Hmm. You might be right. I better nip up to the canteen then…"

"You can have some of my sandwiches if you like, I'm not that hungry".

"Oh, no, it's all right, I don't want to pinch your lunch."

Duffy moved to her locker and retrieved a tin foil wrapped bundle before settling into one of the chairs. "Honestly I don't mind. I always make too much and it's not good for my diet".

Knowing that no comment he'd ever made about women's diets, no matter how well intentioned, had ever gone down well, he didn't respond to that and simply answered "If you don't mind, then thanks". She handed him the bundle and he helped himself.

"Charlie, if you don't mind, I'd like to talk to you about Martin…" Charlie grunted for her to continue through his mouthful of food. "The thing is, I've noticed you haven't seemed too happy about the situation, and I wondered if there was anything I could do…"

He frowned at her, a little confused, but flattered by her interest in his well being. "Well it's been a bit upsetting; finding out that he's been lying to me all this time and everything. I'll get over it though. I don't really see what you can do".

"I just thought that, maybe you'd want to talk about it".

"There's nothing to talk about. I never properly thanked you for bringing it to our attention though. We wouldn't have found out it was him if it wasn't for you".

She blushed slightly. "Not bad for a temp, eh?"

Charlie stopped eating, put the remainder of the sandwich on the table, and leant forward in his seat. "You know, I'd forgotten about that".

"'Bout what?"

"That you're only a temp". He replied, suddenly remembering that he was supposed to have asked her about the night shift job, "You've fitted in really well. I suppose you'll be grateful to get out of the madhouse though!"

"It hasn't exactly been what I expected, I'll admit…"

"But it hasn't been all bad. Has it?"

"No. It hasn't. I've quite liked most of it, though some bits I could have done without". She indicated her fob watch, now minus all of its glass and sporting slightly bent hands, which had been broken it her altercation with Frankie.

"So would you be at all interested in a permanent position here?"

Charlie didn't think he'd ever seen someone's eyes light up so much. "You mean Martin's job?"

"Well, not exactly, he was a much more senior nurse so I can't offer you his job…"

"There's another one?"

"Yes, in a way. I was supposed to speak to all the nurses and explain the situation but as you know events have rather taken over and I haven't got around to it. Basically, we're starting a permanent night shift in a few weeks time and it needs to be staffed. I've already spoken to Ewart and we'd be happy to offer you a job, starting at the beginning of March. If you're interested that is".

"I don't know what to say…"

"There's no rush; go home, think about it. But we'd love to have you on board".

If there had been any doubt in her mind about whether she should say yes, Charlie's last comment quashed it completely. "I'd like to accept".

Charlie was a little taken aback by the strength of her resolve, but nonetheless pleased. "Great! I'll get on to personnel and sort it all out ASAP. I should go and tell the others as well. Can't be having favourites!" he winked as he stood up and made his way to the door. "And thanks for the sarnie".


Ewart stepped onto the reasonably unfamiliar territory of Curie ward, which was the stomping ground of his friend Gregory Stewart, and where he intended to make Baz Samuels an offer she couldn't refuse. The other applicants had been satisfactory, but in a situation where they all had the basic qualifications required, he liked to think that he'd spotted something in her that set her above the rest.

He spotted her chatting to colleague at the nurse's station, and as he made his way over to her she noticed him too and excused herself from her conversation. "Mr Plimmer, good afternoon"

"Baz, sorry to interrupt but I thought you'd want to know as soon as possible, and seeing as you're only on the next wing I can deliver the news in person". A pre-emptive grin appeared, but Baz refrained from saying anything and instead just nodded. "You've got the job Baz. Congratulations".

"Thank you, And thanks for coming to tell me too, I appreciate it".

"My pleasure, I just hope that you're still saying that when we're working together! I was wondering what time does your shift here end?"

"Eight. It was supposed to be my day off but, seeing as I was coming in anyway, I swapped a few hours with one of the others. Why?"

"I thought you might like a quick look at the department, meet some of the others, that's if my Charge Nurse has got around to sorting it out yet. It'll be easier to have one big question and answer session than talking to everybody individually, and it might be a nice way of getting to know each other".

"It sounds like a good opportunity. I'll be there".

"Good. Just make your way to the staff room as soon as you can. See you then Baz."


Up until the instigation of the new permanent night shift, the casualty department remained open overnight only on Friday and Saturday, although the arguments for why this was so were rather spurious. Apart from more people going out, and getting drunk on these nights, there didn't seem to be any evidence that people were predisposed to a heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism happening at the weekend. It was this that made Ewart's twenty-four hour A&E such a good idea, and as the Saturday day shift drew to a close, Charlie was rather looking forward to the big announcement.

So far, it all seemed to have gone smoothly. Charlie had spoken to Duffy, Megan, phoned Clive King, and approached a handful of other nurses who sounded interested in the idea. In a brief discussion with Ewart, he had learnt that an SHO had been appointed, so altogether it was a case of all systems go.

Charlie entered the staff room and found himself surrounded by nurses from his shift coming off duty as well as nurses getting ready for the next. Which staff worked which shift alternated roughly weekly. He clapped his hands together to get their attention.

"If I could have your attention, please!" The chattering descended to near silence. "Ewart will be along in a minute, so could the day shift hang around, he has an announcement to make". There was a general murmur of disgruntlement, which Charlie tried to placate by mouthing sorry at those with the most unhappy expressions.

Across the room, sitting on the counter by the sink with her legs dangling in front of the cupboard doors, Duffy was blowing on a Cuppa Soup to cool it down. Charlie made his way through the crowd towards her, taking what appeared at first glance to be a screwed up piece of paper from his pocket as he did so.

"Erm, I got you a present". He said, thrusting the small package wrapped in what appeared to be an old, stock request form at Duffy.

She smiled, rather taken aback, "Ooh, this is exciting".

"Yeah, well don't get your hopes up. When I say 'present' what I really mean is 'here's something I pinched out of lost property for you'". He gave her a boyish grin and shoved his hands back into his pockets.

She carefully un-wrapped the paper, enjoying the build up to the surprise. After discarding the wrapper, she looked down to see what was left, and gave Charlie a quizzical look. He'd given her an old wristwatch face, with a safety pin hanging off the bottom of it.

"Look," he said, taking it from her hand and holding it up, "it’s a fob watch. Sort of. Because your proper one got broken the other day".

"Oh!" she replied, taking it back from him and pinning it to her uniform, "Thanks Charlie".

"You don't have to wear it or anything, I just thought it'd be better than that thing," He indicated her broken one. "Until you can get a new one that is."

"It's very thoughtful of you". If the they'd been on their own she might have given him a quick peck on the cheek, but as it was she decided against it; he was her boss after all.

He was struggling to find something else to say when he felt someone tap him on the shoulder. He turned away round to see who it was and found himself staring at an attractive, and vaguely familiar looking, young woman.

"Are you Charlie Fairhead?" she asked.

"Yeah, that's me. Oh, wait, are you the new SHO? Um… Dr Samuels?" She smiled and nodded, bewitching him in seconds.

"Uh huh. Baz Samuels. Pleased to meet you." She held out her hand for him to shake. He took it, smiling, and feeling inexplicably self-conscious.

"Likewise. Ewart said you'd be dropping in. So, are you looking forward to working here?"

"I suppose" she replied hesitantly, "I've never worked in A&E before, but I'm looking forward to the challenge".

"Well, it's certainly that! Eh, Duffy?" He glanced up to her, and noticed that she was stirring her soup with a far more depressed expression than she'd been sporting a minute ago.

"Hmmm" She replied distractedly.

Charlie gave her a quick confused look about her sudden lack of enthusiasm, and turned back to Baz. "We're generally a friendly bunch anyway. I'm sure you'll fit right in".

"I hope so… Oh, here's Ewart".

Ewart got the attention of the staff in a way not dissimilar to a teacher trying to calm an unruly class. Everybody stopped what they were doing and waited expectantly. He cleared his throat quietly and addressed his audience.

"Right. I'm sure most of you will have heard about the permanent night shift that we'll be running here at Holby General in the not too distant future. I believe Charlie has approached a number of you for your support in this venture, and I'd like to make clear that anyone interested in taking part should come and see either Charlie or myself about it.

"The idea is that we'll be able to provide for all people at all times; keeping true to the original principles of the National Health Service. Now, I don't expect this will always be easy. Many people have voiced their concerns on a number of economic and social issues. They're asking whether we'll be value for money, and are worried that we'll turn into a shelter for the homeless, among other things. But I have faith that a permanent night shift will be invaluable to the community. We will save lives, and that is, after all, what we are here to do.

"The DHSS have given us the green light to open our doors on the night of Monday March 3rd, and for us to remain open for one year, pending a review of the situation. I intend to make this work, and I trust that all you involved in both the night shift and the regular day shifts will have the same intention. Let's show them that they've made the right decision!"

His speech was met by a rowdy chorus of approval, leaving Ewart to feel rather proud of him self. The staff were behind him, now all that was required was to prove the indispensability of the shift to management. Surely even a bunch of pen pushers would be able to see what a benefit the scheme was to Holby.

Duffy finished her soup and rinsed out her mug before jumping down off the sideboard and yanking on her jacket. Everybody seemed so excited about the new night shift, and both Charlie and Ewart had immediately been collared by members of staff wanting more information, or simply voicing their approval. Although Duffy knew that she was going to be a part of it, she didn't quite feel like celebrating. The night shift wasn't going to start for weeks, and in the meantime, she had to go back to her job on the ward. She buttoned up her coat in preparation of the February chill, and attracted Charlie's attention for long enough to wave goodbye to him. Then she extricated herself from the throng and walked out of the department.

"Hey!" she heard a voice calling out, and stopped as Baz caught up with her. "Duffy wasn't it?"

"Yeah. Well, that's what everyone calls me."

"Baz Samuels. Nice to meet you. It's a mad house in there isn't it. I couldn't hear myself think!"

"Everyone's excited about the new shift".

"You aren't?"

"Oh no, I am too. I just wish it was starting sooner, that's all".

"You don't work in A&E at the moment then?" Baz queried, giving Duffy the feeling that she was building up to some other question.

"I've been helping out this last week…"

"So how well do you know the staff?"

"Quite well, why?"

"Oh no reason" Baz shrugged a little too dismissively, "I just like to know what I'm letting myself in for. I've heard a lot of rumours about Ewart Plimmer and Charlie Fairhead."

"Like what?"

"Oh, just that Ewart's the sort of doctor who seems to have a phobia of patients, and Charlie's always making a nuisance of himself, trying to get his patients admitted to the ward."

"That's not fair. Ewart's an excellent doctor, and Charlie only does what he has to, to keep the department going."

"Maybe, but they still seem like a pair of difficult characters. Must be hell for their wives".

No matter how casual Baz had intended it to sound, Duffy picked up on the underlying sentiment of her statement, and although she briefly toyed with the idea of providing a little false information, she couldn't quite bring herself to. Not after the way she'd seen Charlie look at this new doctor. "Charlie's not married, I don't think he's even got a girlfriend at the moment."

Baz smiled, slightly embarrassed by the knowing look Duffy was giving her. "Thanks" she said, "I should be going I suppose. See you in March!"

"Bye!" Duffy called out with as much enthusiasm as she could muster, as Baz was walking off toward her car. She looked up across at the casualty department. "See you next month" she whispered.


Charlie exited the hospital and pulled the collar of his jacket up around his neck to combat the cold. It hadn't been a bad day all things considered, work had gone well, he'd almost forgotten Martin's betrayal, and maybe more importantly he'd met a charming, intelligent and downright gorgeous woman and soon enough he'd be working with her.

He had taken only a few steps away from the door when he saw a small red car out of the corner of his eye. He recognised the slightly erratic driving from that morning when he'd nearly collided with it. So he was rather surprised when the car pulled up beside him. He bent down so he could look in the window.

"Hi again Charlie" Baz said, "Want a lift somewhere?"

"You've got to be kidding! I've seen you drive. Yellow Beetle mean anything to you?"

She looked puzzled for a moment before it dawned on her what he was getting at. "Hey, now that wasn't my fault, you weren't looking where you were going".

"I was! It was you who should have been more careful. This is a hospital, not Brand's Hatch".

"Ha! And nor is it Toyland. Does Noddy know you've nicked his car?"

Whatever retort Charlie was about to come up with gave way to a shocked, though amused expression. He straightened up, rubbing the back of his head, trying to think of something to say.

Inside the car, Baz couldn't help but grin wickedly to herself for winning the argument. "So you don't want a lift then?"

"I'm perfectly happy with my car thank you doctor".

"Suit yourself. But don't say I didn't offer…" she continued to grin playfully as she started her engine again. "See you around Charlie!"

Charlie watched after her as she drove away, at speed, not entirely sure what had passed between them, but hoping it was a version of flirting; Baz Samuels style. Any doubts he had about whether the night shift was a good idea melted away, how could anything that got him closer to Baz be a bad idea? He was already looking forward to it.

"Roll on March 3rd!" he said cheerfully, "This is going to be interesting…"


The Beginning…

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