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The University of Southampton
Medical Education

Clinical Ethics and Law at Southampton (CELS) features in Channel 4 documentary

Published: 21 March 2018
University Hospital Southampton
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

The Clinical Ethics 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.

Angela Fenwick, Deputy Chair of the committee and Associate Professor, Clinical Ethics and Law, Faculty of Medicine, features in the programme alongside Senior Teaching Fellow, Peta Coulson-Smith, in the discussion of ethically complex medical decisions relating to the patients from the paediatric intensive care unit at Southampton Children’s Hospital.

The two-part series, My Baby’s Life: Who Decides?, filmed by Love Productions aired on Channel 4 and features the stories of six patients and their families, following the staff who care for them.

The programmes explore the work of the Clinical Ethics Committee and 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.

“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.

Professor Anneke Lucassen, Professor 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.”

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? was broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday, 15 March at 9pm, the second to be aired on Thursday 22nd March at 9pm.

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More information about the work of Clinical Ethics and Law at Southampton can be found here.

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