Malpractice ending explained: What happened in the finale of the ITV medical drama?

The show has brought attention to real issues faced by Doctors

NIAMH ALGAR as Dr Lucinda Edwards in Malpractice
(Image credit: ITV/Future)

Viewers have already made their way through all 5 episodes of the intense drama, and have some questions about the Malpractice ending. 

Malpractice exploded onto the ITV viewing schedule on April 23, quickly drawing in viewers with its complex and pertinent narratives. Written by former NHS Doctor Grace Ofori-Attah, the series shines an important light on the overworked and underfunded conditions placed on current healthcare professionals, and the potential impact this can have on patients in their care. Closely following a fictional malpractice allegation made against a hospital when a young overdose victim dies, the subsequent investigation had viewers on the edge of their seats. Malpractice filmed in a disused office, where a meticulously recreated hospital environment added to the show's authenticity. Read on for a full explanation of the series' ending, and the implications for the characters. 

Fellow medical drama Maternal made similar waves when it arrived to ITV earlier this year. Following a group of female Doctors as they returned to work after maternity leave, Maternal filmed not too far from Malpractice. The series was praised for a very realistic portrayal of women returning to work, and the failure to "have it all," that society suggests they should have.

Malpractice ending explained

Towards the end of the series, viewers were led to believe Lucinda was planning to prescribe drugs to addicts under the direction of Dr Jubair Singh. 

It was later revealed what Lucinda was actually doing was recording his conversations to gather incriminating evidence against him. She then handed the recordings to George and Norma, who told her of Rob's death. Lucinda then attempted to encourage Eva to admit she knew all along what Jubair had been up to. 

During their conversation, Eva revealed to Lucinda that Rob began his ascent into illegal activity by prescribing drugs for his addicted brother. Witnessing the effects of addiction first hand, Rob then began frequently prescribing for other addicts, believing it to be safter for them to have authentic drugs, rather than ones from unscrupulous dealers. Eva used her rehab clinic to refer patients to Rob, expressing her lack of belief in the rehab system and feelings that Rob's actions were more effective. 

Eva maintained that Rob had been very careful with those she sent his way, and the spate of overdoses were part of a very unusual pattern - she felt this was a red flag signalling a problem. Rob had confided in Jubair about the overdoses, resulting in Jubair threatening him, asserting he was just a cog in an operation with a hierarchy reaching far higher than himself. 

After speaking to Eva, Lucinda visited overdose patient Milo, who told her his fentanyl patches came from Wellspring pharmacy. His revelation led to Lucinda believing there must be a problem with the batch. She later finds the drugs are indeed dangerous, coming from a previously recalled batch. 

NICOLA WRIGHT as Margot Owusu in Malpractice

(Image credit: ITV)

Lucinda confronts Dr Willett about her findings, informing him Edith died from taking recalled drugs from their hospital. She suggests he is responsible for collecting drugs that should be destroyed, and passing them on to addicts. He responds by angrily reminding Lucinda nobody can trust her word, because she was once an addict herself. 

Feeling defeated, Lucinda goes home, and it's not long before Camilla calls. She informs Lucinda a friend of hers has just suffered a fentanyl overdose. Dashing to help, the situation is actually a set up - nobody has overdosed, and Jubair is instead waiting for her, with backup. Lucinda is held down and forcibly injected with deadly levels of oxycodone.

Taken to A&E, Oscar freaks out when he sees Lucinda, while Ramya administers life-saving treatment. Alive and recovering, George and Norma visit Lucinda to reveal Eva has told them the truth about Jubair and his pack of helpers, admitting they planted fake evidence in Edith's flat. Lucinda is relieved to find she was right about someone at the hospital consistently ordering drugs surplus to requirement, under the guise anything unused would be sent to charity - but she still doesn't know who it could be. 

NIAMH ALGAR as Dr Lucinda Edwards and HELEN BEHAN as Dr Norma Callahan in Malpractice

(Image credit: ITV)

It transpires the Developing Aid charity receiving the unwanted drugs was set up by four Doctors, one of which is Leo - he had covered up his involvement with the charity, but sleuthing George and Norma discovered his participation. Leo had been selling the drugs to wealthy addicts for huge profit, and covered his tracks by altering hospital records relating to the extent of his excess ordering.

Planning their own double cross, Norma and George inform Leo the police want to chat to him about payments he was found to making to an offshore account. Instead, he and Eva are arrested for their involvement in the process of profiting from selling prescription drugs stolen from the hospital. 

The man brandishing a gun from the start of the series then makes an unexpected return. When Jubair is stabbed by Yussuf - the patient brought to the hospital by gun-wielding man - Yussuf needs to make a quick get away. Hopping into a car to make his exit, the gunman is the one behind the wheel of the vehicle carrying him.

SCOTT CHAMBERS as Dr Oscar Beattie

(Image credit: ITV)

What happened to Lucinda at the end of Malpractice?

Lucinda's fate is left uncertain at the end of Malpractice, as the tribunal verdict is not shown.

Prior to the hearing, Lucinda visits the hospital to thank Ramya for saving her life, and wishing her the best for her life as a Doctor. Attending the tribunal, Norma is waiting for her, to let her know she would have to reveal her previous struggle with diazepam addiction to the panel. 

Tom is also in attendance, and Lucinda discusses her diazepam misuse with him. She admits to using the drug to cope with the stress of her job, and overwhelming feelings that the pressure of every shift leaves her feeling on the edge. She finally admits to needing help, before facing the tribunal - the result of which is not revealed. 

BRIAN BOVELL as Sir Anthony Owusu in Malpractice

(Image credit: ITV)

Malpractice ending: Viewer reaction

The Malpractice ending appears to have divided viewers, who shared their thoughts on social media. 

One viewer wrote on Twitter "Next time, on #Malpractice, Lucinda is abducted by the Life of Brian aliens. Sorry but from the disappearing gunman to the highly improbable ending, that was c**p." 

Another felt the same about the ending, but enjoyed the show overall, saying "Binge watched the rest of #Malpractice ending was a bit meh ( won't spoil it for folk) other than that it was brillant & I loved the twists & turns & the unexpected. I give it an 8/10." 

Adding to the feelings of disappointment over the ending, another Twitter user added "A good leading performance but it felt like a total slog to get through for me. And that ending was very predictable. #Malpractice."

Bringing some positivity over the ending, an enthusiastic viewer said "@ITV  great new drama (finally one NOT about bent coppers or serial killers!) #Malpractice is brilliant! Started last night, finished it about 20 minutes ago! Loved @NiamhAlgar  hopefully a second series to follow?!" 

Will there be a Malpractice season 2?

There has been no announcement made regarding a Malpractice season 2 from ITV. 

Although the future of the show is uncertain, many will want to know Lucinda's eventual fate, fuelling the need for a follow up. Series writer and former Doctor Grace Ofori-Attah, has also spoken extensively of the need to showcase the experiences of current NHS Doctors and those under investigation, through the medium of television. This could also imply she has further ideas for another series, or a different show covering similar themes.

She said "I never really see anything on TV about that investigation process - or about coroner’s inquests, which are a huge part of my medical life. Especially as a consultant and a registrar in psychiatry. Because you have a lot of patients who commit suicide or have substance misuse deaths. 

We had so many coroner’s inquests. Again, I was so surprised that people don’t really seem to understand this process. Which can be so unfair on all sides. The whole thing can be dreadful. And then you have to go back to work." 

On breaking stereotypes surrounding drug addiction, she added "There is a stereotypical idea of what a drug addict looks like. What I want to show is that’s just not the case. 

The people who are probably causing the most damage - not just at street drug level and personal use level - are your middle class and upper class, wealthier, professional substance users. Because they really drive the market. They can pay more." 

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Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.