Southampton's children's intensive care to feature in Channel 4 documentary

PICU team

Patients, staff and families from the paediatric intensive care unit at Southampton Children’s Hospital are set to feature in a Channel 4 documentary on medical ethics.

The two-part series, My Baby’s Life: Who Decides?, was filmed by Love Productions and features the stories of six patients and their families, following the staff who care for them.

In addition to taking in the work of the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU), which treats around 1,000 patients a year from across the south of England and the Channel Islands and has one of the best survival rates in the country, the programmes explore the work of the clinical ethics committee.

The committee at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust was established in 2001 and deals with any ethical issues arising in clinical practice when health practitioners, patients or patients' families cannot reach agreement on important healthcare matters.

“This programme is a landmark moment in engaging the public with the discussions that take place between clinicians, patients and their families on a daily basis and the value of strong relationships and communication for everyone involved in the care process,” said Dr Peter Wilson, consultant in paediatric intensive care at Southampton Children’s Hospital.

“We often fail to talk openly about the ethics of medical care in society but it is an integral and routine part of life in acute hospitals and this documentary provides real insight into the active role families play in the care that is delivered every day.

“It is also an opportunity to reflect on the situations surrounding recent high profile cases and how the details of these decisions can be distorted during public debate as the circumstances are often much more complex than they seem to those not directly involved.”

Professor Anneke Lucassen, a physician specialising in clinical genetics and chair of the clinical ethics committee at UHS, added: “Difficult ethical decisions are a routine part of everyday clinical practice.

"The clinical ethics committee aims to support staff by providing a place for reflection, opinion or advice to facilitate a process for arriving at a decision.

"We are really pleased to be part of this project to help promote and engage people in this important aspect of clinical care."

Nick Mirsky, head of documentaries at Channel 4, said: “This series is among the most important we will broadcast this year.

“Set inside Southampton’s paediatric intensive care unit, the medical team and ethics committee offer a window on some of the most challenging dilemmas facing today’s doctors. 

“It is real privilege to be able to reflect the thought and compassion of the team that work there.”

The first episode of My Baby’s Life: Who Decides? will be broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday, 15 March at 9pm.

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Posted on Monday 5 March 2018