Friday 28 October 2016

'Like nothing we've ever seen before on Irish television' - Moving five-part RTE series goes behind the scenes in hospitals

Published 16/08/2016 | 08:08

St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin
St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin
St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, which is relocating its liver unit following the Health Information and Quality Authority report. Photo: Damien Eagers
When the move to St Vincent’s was first announced in 2013 the cost was put at €150m

RTE is filming a real-life Casualty after being given "unprecedented access" to the Irish health service.

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The Herald can reveal how the station is making a five-part TV series that will chronicle some of the real-life stories that arise in Irish hospitals all over the country.

Entitled Keeping Ireland Alive the in-depth programme delving into some of the most interesting cases is expected to be one of the highlights of RTE's Autumn TV schedule.

In a first for Irish TV, RTE has filmed in some of the major Dublin hospitals including the Mater and St Vincent's in addition to hospitals in Cork and Galway.

An inside source said that the programme was "like nothing we've ever seen before on Irish television".

"It was a huge undertaking. We had 75 different crews stationed all over the country," an RTE source said.

"They had unprecedented access to our health service and brought back thousands of hours of footage covering everything from community services to incredibly complex life or death surgeries.

"It concentrated on the front -line staff as well as the patients and this is the first time that anything of this scale has been done. It was a very ambitious project that has nearly come to completion."

She said that the camera crew uncovered some "amazing" stories during the course of their behind-the-scenes work.

"It's an incredibly moving but unflinching warts-and-all portrait of a service that really impacts on us every day," she said.

The RTE crew started filming back in May and has spent the summer working on the lengthy programme aimed at lifting the lid on the Irish health service.

It will touch on everything from human-interest stories arising from Emergency Departments from around the country in addition to the Surgery Department and even maternity cases.

The show has now gone into post-production and is expected to air at the end of this month.

The programme was made by Independent Pictures, which also made Big Week on the Farm and Ear to the Ground'

Although RTE previously filmed a show on Crumlin Children's Hospital, this new programme has a much wider remit as it involves cases nationwide and from all departments in the health service.

It's expected to hit our small screens in a prime-time slot at the end of this month.

RTE will unveil full details of its full autumn/winter schedule at its media launch in Dublin next Monday.

More than 50 new programmes are expected to be announced, including a new celebrity version of Operation Transformation starring Gerald Kean and Elaine Crowley.

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