Royal Free to appear on the BBC in coronavirus special of Hospital

Consultant cardiologist Tim Lockie at Royal Free London. Picture: Daniel Dewsbury

Consultant cardiologist Tim Lockie at Royal Free London. Picture: Daniel Dewsbury - Credit: BBC/Label1/Daniel Dewsbury

BBC viewers can get an inside look at the Royal Free Hospital’s coronavirus crisis response in a special documentary programme.

Footage was captured at both Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital over three weeks in March and April for a two-part special of BBC Two’s Hospital, entitled Hospital Special: Fighting Covid-19.

It followed doctors and nurses treating patients with the infection as the pandemic hit its peak.

Tim Lockie, a consultant cardiologist at Royal Free, was one of the doctors filmed for the programme.

“It might have been intimidating at first because you feel self conscious but they were brilliant at staying in the background and not being intrusive - I barely noticed them and it wasn’t an issue,” said Tim, who has been working as a consultant at the Royal Free since 2013.

“People wanted to tell their stories and share their experiences and it was an evolving situation.”

The crew instinctively knew when it was inappropriate to film, he said, switching off the cameras if patients or their families were uncomfortable.

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Tim added: “[Covid-19] has obviously taken us by storm and I don’t think any of us have been in a situation where one single event has changed the landscape internationally, nationally and locally.”

Although the cardiology department has shifted a little during the pandemic, it has not been wholly overturned because heart attack and stroke patients are still in need of urgent care.

Noticing a drop in the number of early self-referrals, Tim said symptoms of cardiac conditions, including breathlessness and chest pains, could be mistaken for coronavirus, ignored, and become worse through lack of treatment.

“People are not presenting in the usual way and it’s not because people aren’t having heart attacks,” Tim said, encouraging everyone to keep coming to hospital if needed.

He praised the hospital’s management for its “really great support” during the crisis and stressed he had not experienced a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Emma Kearney, Royal Free’s group chief communications officer, said: “Although it was filmed at our trust, I have been conscious that it is an opportunity to show the work taking place in every hospital in the UK – and in fact the world.”

BBC Two controller Patrick Holland added: “I hope the finished films reflect the challenges and complexities faced by staff during this extraordinary time.”

The programme will be broadcast on May 11 and May 12 on BBC Two at 9pm.