When Essie was a child, her mother Maggie was killed in a car accident. Throughout Essie's life, she was told that her grandfather Joe was captured by the Nazis during World War II and sent to the Majdanek concentration camp, and she later became responsible for caring for him following her mother's death.
Grandfather's Nazi revelation and death
On 6 May 2014, Joe was admitted to Holby City Hospital's Keller Ward with abdominal pains following hip replacement surgery, and he was found to be suffering from a perforated bowel. When the perforation became larger, Joe was faced with emergency surgery, and registrar Sacha Levy gave Joe the choice of signing an advance directive; Joe told F1 Zosia March that he wanted to sign it. However, Sacha was not informed of Joe's decision and ended up breaking several of Joe's ribs while resuscitating him. (HC: "My Name Is Joe")
The next day, Joe experienced an intestinal bleed and was rushed into theatre. However, after Zosia and F2 Arthur Digby showed him a catalogue of evidence showing that Joe was a guard at Majdanek, Sacha was not comfortable with operating on Joe and had Serena Campbell take over. Outside, Essie confronted Sacha, and he told her that it was highly probable that Joe was christened "Josef Dalke" and was a Nazi war criminal. Essie refused to believe the news and reported Sacha to CEO Guy Self. However, when Essie demanded Joe to tell the truth about "Josef Dalke", Joe reluctantly admitted his involvement in the Holocaust and stood by his actions. Horrified by the revelation, Essie claimed to no longer recognise Joe and left him to die alone; she subsequently informed Guy of the truth and vindicated Sacha. After Joe's death, Sacha assured Essie that she did nothing wrong. (HC: "No Apologies") The day before, Essie had been offered a full-time position on AAU, but she decided to turn it down to take care of Joe. (HC: "My Name Is Joe") She asked Sacha if her working at the hospital would trouble him, and he assured her that it would not. (HC: "No Apologies")
On 5 December 2017, with the arrival of the eminent neurosurgeon John Gaskell, Essie suggested that Raf seize the opportunity to "impress the impressive". However, she quickly began to feel superstitious when a pregnant woman with superfoetation named Rosie was brought onto AAU, and Raf was forced to utilise ECMO, a technique he had introduced to the hospital; her feelings on unease later disappeared after Raf managed to successfully perform an emergency caesarean on Rosie and save her and all three of her babies. (HC: "Group Animal - Part One")
Later that day, the hospital was put on lockdown after Fredrik Johanssen walked onto AAU with a loaded rifle, and Essie, Sacha, Henrik and Gaskell were forced to operate on Jac Naylor, who had been shot in the back, in Gaskell's wet laboratory with improvised instruments. After Essie was escorted upstairs to retrieve equipment, she became concerned when Rosie was discovered with shrapnel injuries and without Raf. Once Fredrik was neutralised by armed police, and the hospital's lifts were reinstated, Essie was initially relieved to find a voicemail from Raf, but her feelings of relief quickly turned into horror when Raf explained that he had been shot in the neck and was unlikely to be saved. Raf's body was discovered in the lift and was subsequently taken to the morgue. (HC: "Group Animal - Part Two")