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OU collaborates with BBC on The Big Hospital Experiment

On Wednesday 4 September, episode one of The Big Hospital Experiment airs on BBC Two at 9pm. Co-produced by the BBC and The Open University’s Broadcast and Partnerships team, the four-part programme follows a group of young people as they embark on a radical social experiment – volunteering on the NHS frontline to deliver patient care.

Inspired by a similar social care programme in Germany, the 14 volunteers aged between 18-24 are put to work on the wards of the Royal Derby Hospital, assisting staff in the treatment of patients in maternity, A&E, paediatrics, elderly care and everything in between.

Senior nurses and sisters guide the volunteers through the intricacies of hospital life, as they face one of the most gruelling weeks of their lives. The life-changing experience gives the group a valuable insight into healthcare and could perhaps be a scheme that could be rolled out nationwide in the future.

OU Academic Consultants, Shelia Counihan, Lecturer in Nursing, Tyrrell Golding, Associate Head of School of Education, Youth and Sports and Stephen Harrison, Programme Lead for Childhood and Youth Studies have been involved in advising and shaping the production, and have helped in the creation of content for the free online OpenLearn site, which will help viewers further their learning journey to discover more about volunteering.

Tyrrell said: “My colleagues and I are thrilled to be involved in the making of The Big Hospital Experiment, especially as the programme seeks to challenge some of the negative stereotypes perpetuated about young adults and their commitment to working hard and caring for others. It illustrates the numerous benefits of volunteering, to the patient, organisation, and volunteer – in one particular case, we even see volunteers achieve ‘more’ for a patient than the professionals, because they had the time to commit.”

Dr Caroline Ogilvie, Head of Broadcast & Partnerships commented: “The premise of this series was to take a novel approach to addressing some of the challenges facing the NHS. The OU was delighted to be involved and co-produce these programmes which support our teaching and learning in education and youth studies.”

Find out more

For free learning resources visit The Big Hospital Experiment OpenLearn site

About studying Adult Nursing, Healthcare Practise and Childhood and Youth Studies at the OU

  • Commissioned by Dr Caroline Ogilvie, Head of Broadcast & Partnerships
  • Academic Consultants: Sheila Counihan, Stephen Harrison and Tyrrell Golding
  • Media Fellow: Dr Mathijs Lucassen
  • Broadcast Project Manager: Matthew Ray
  • Digital Content Producer: Georgia Axtell-Powell

About Author

Hannah is part of the Media Relations Team at The Open University, working with the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies. With experience both agency and in-house, Hannah has worked on campaigns for a number of large corporate companies and brands, including RBS, NatWest, Travelodge, Audible, AA and the Royal Academy of Dance. She has completed a Masters in Publishing Studies from Oxford Brookes and is currently studying towards a DipHE in Computer, IT and Design. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading and going to the theatre.

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