When Sophia was growing up, she had an imaginary friend. It was only later she learned that the little girl she played with in her mind was not imaginary at all, but a distant memory of an older sister.
The two had been separated when they were in care, and contact between them was soon lost.
It might sound like a Dickensian tale of misery, but it’s not rare for siblings to be forced apart whilst in the UK’s care system.
In England alone, there are currently more than 78,000 children living in foster care or children’s homes.
Many have brothers and sisters, but keeping them together is difficult.
File on 4 hears from the children and young people who have been split up, and hear how it has affected the rest of their lives.
When they can’t be placed together, experts agree that robust plans should be put in place to maintain contact between them. So why is it not happening?
If one child goes on to be adopted, maintaining contact with their brothers and sisters is far from straight forward.
And for the families who do adopt sibling groups, there’s concern that they’re not getting the right help to support those relationships.
Some experts argue that keeping siblings together shouldn’t always be the default intervention.
For some, placing them apart might be in their best interests but are the views of children always being taken into account when these decisions are being made and is the importance of sibling relationships sometimes being overlooked?
Reporter - Paul Kenyon
Producer - Emma Forde
Editor - Carl Johnston
Going back: The people reversing their gender transition
An increasing number of people are questioning their gender identity. Waiting lists for specialist clinics treating both children and adults with gender dysphoria are increasing, with some having to wait years to been seen. Many who transition to a gender different to the one they were assigned at birth live happy lives. But, File on 4 has spoken to some who now regret the taking of cross-sex hormones or undergoing surgery, and who are now detransitioning. They and experts working in the field of gender identity fear that other mental health issues are not being adequately explored before life-changing decisions are made and have told the BBC more help is needed for this vulnerable group.
Image credit; Natasaadzic\Getty
Medical professionals say shortages of commonly prescribed drugs are currently worse than ever before - impacting on patient care and potentially costing lives.
The government has banned the export of some medications from the UK in an attempt to protect dwindling supplies but desperate patients are still travelling abroad to get the medication they need or, rationing their supply or going without treatments entirely.
File on 4 examines the complex supply network behind the medication we’re prescribed and finds out how a single broken link in the fragile chain can impact patients, doctors and pharmacists alike. Speaking to worried insiders, exasperated clinicians and patients left too frightened to leave the house, the programme uncovers a long-running crisis at the very centre of our health care system.
Reporter: Adrian Goldberg
Producer: Steven Hobson
Editor: Carl Johnston
Image credit: Hiraman\Getty
Anatomy of a fraud
Dodgy diamonds, missing millions - and the victims failed by justice.
It starts with a phone call. Cynthia Tuck, a retired nurse and widow in her 80's, is charmed by a man offering her the chance to help put her grandchildren through university. All it would take is a small initial investment. Fast forward three years and Mrs Tuck has lost her entire life savings - hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Three years on, in 2019, her fight for justice has hit a dead end. No charges. No trial. Everyone involved still at large. What went wrong? And why is the system failing millions of fraud victims like Cynthia Tuck?
Reporter: Dan Whitworth
Producer: Simon Maybin
Editor: Hugh Levinson
Crash Landing - The demise of Thomas Cook
To its thousands of employees left unemployed or 150,000 holiday makers stranded overseas, the collapse of Britain’s oldest travel firm came as a bitter, unexpected shock.
File on 4 takes a forensic look at the demise of the 178-year-old company, revealing how it came about, the warning signs that were ignored and why a last, desperate attempt at a bail-out came too late. Speaking to Thomas Cook insiders, the programme uncovers how senior executives made millions while loading the company with debt, and were unable or unwilling to change course. It also follows the progress of some of those pilots, cabin crew and shop staff who lost their jobs as they pick up the pieces and try to find their way back into the workplace.
Reporter: Howard Mustoe
Producers: Dan Box, Alys Harte and Luke Denne
Editor: Carl Johnston
Photo credit; Hassenstein, Alexander\Getty Images