Getting to know Louise…
Louise Halfpenny is the head of communications for St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust. She was instrumental in securing St George’s as the new home for ’24 Hours in A&E’.
Why did the trust agree to be filmed for the series?
We thought it would be a great way to show the public what really goes on behind the scenes of a busy emergency department. We’re proud of our staff and what they achieve. You’d have to be -there’s no hiding place with more than 100 cameras in place!
How much was the trust paid for being part of the series?
We were given a facility fee for taking part.
Where will the revenue go?
Some of it was used for additional staff time needed to make the show happen and some will be used to begin much-needed improvements to our intranet.
Were staff paid for participating in the series?
No, not directly. When we needed staff to spend time to help with the programme then money was used to backfill them so that patient care was not affected.
Did all patients give their consent to be filmed for the series?
How did you know that patients were able to give consent?
Before filming started the trust carefully considered the consent process. Our medical director, information governance leads and our legal team looked through the production team’s processes very carefully and were happy with their approach. A contract was then signed. In addition, we spoke to colleagues at King’s where the series had been filmed previously. Their experience gave us even greater assurance about consent.
How much disruption did the filming cause for patients?
Hardly any. There were only a couple of members of the production team in the hospital at any one time. The cameras are installed so there weren’t lots of people filming patients. The cameras were operated remotely.”
How did you make sure patients, visitor and staff were kept safe during filming?
The cameras and cabling were installed when the emergency department was at its quietest. Our own estates team played an important role in overseeing this – often at very unsociable hours. We also organised a briefing for more than 100 staff from The Garden Productions to tell them about safety, conduct and infection control measures before filming started. We’re grateful to The Garden Productions and our estates staff for doing all they could to minimise disruption and put safety first.
Wasn’t it distracting for doctors/nurses to be filmed while treating patients?
Staff are focused on treating patients first and foremost. Everyone soon got used to them. Some staff, patients and their visitors also wore mics but only if they were completely happy to do so.
Was it really necessary to show such graphic scenes of injuries?
The programme is broadcast after 9pm and its title suggests what might be included. Serious injuries are part of everyday life in a major trauma centre like the one at St George’s. Many of the more gruesome shots have been edited out but it was important to leave in footage that formed an important part of the patient’s story.