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OU co-production returns as hospitals adjust to pandemic













Award-winning OU/BBC co-production ‘Hospital’ returns for a sixth series from 9 November. Filmed in recent months at London’s Royal Free Trust hospitals, episodes follow the human stories behind the headlines as staff and patients grapple with the extraordinary challenge of operating within the new COVID landscape.

Open University Professor of Health Studies, Cathy Lloyd, and OU Nursing Lead, Julie Messenger, have once again taken on the role of academic advisors to the production.

Julie says:
“The original intention had been to showcase the recovery of the NHS following the COVID-19 pandemic in spring/summer 2020. During filming, this had to be reviewed with the possibility of a second surge of the pandemic predicted. As we possibly enter a second surge, trusts including the Royal Free are looking to see how they can retain some semblance of ‘normal’ working. This series is fascinating, with filming taking place unrestricted across the trust. The patient profiles it showcases will bring you to tears, as will the commitment of the NHS workforce who have to constantly adapt to practise their skills in the workplace.”

Waiting lists are growing

The Royal Free Trust is a world-leader in the treatment of infectious diseases and one of the biggest NHS trusts in the country.  During the pandemic, most of the Trust’s work in their three hospitals was completely halted in order to allow it to cope with nearly two thousand patients with COVID.

Episode 1 was filmed in August 2020 at the Royal Free Hospital. Strict new COVID protocols are now in place with restrictions resulting in growing waiting lists for non-COVID procedures.

Working on a co-production

‘Hospital’ continues nearly 50 years of inspiring and educational co-productions from The Open University and the BBC. The series was commissioned by the OU and produced by independent production company Label1 Television. Open Media Fellow for the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS), Mathijas Lucassen, explains the involvement of our academic advisors:

"Prior to filming, our academic advisors meet with the production team to run through themes for the programme – for example they discuss the topical issues in relation to the co-production. The academics also give advice and suggestions for possible amendments where appropriate.  During the actual filming and editing process academics are available to provide additional consultation sessions on specific points. Once ‘rough cuts’ are available, the academics view these episodes and give notes on any points that need attention – for instance if there’s a factual reference that needs correcting or clarification. The next step is checking the ‘fine cuts’ and providing any final feedback before broadcast."

 An OpenLearn page dedicated to healthcare and nursing resources from the OU has been updated with reference to the new series and can be found here.

Watch live on BBC Two or catch-up on iPlayer

‘Hospital’ will be shown on BBC2 at 9pm from Monday 9 November, running weekly for 6 episodes. Episodes will also be available on BBC iPlayer following broadcast. See the BBC programme pages for details of future episodes.

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