The real-life drama of Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s children’s ward is captured in a new fly-on-the-wall TV series.
BBC One Wales’ weekly series The Children’s Ward highlight the experiences and challenges faced by patients at the ward and its 70 staff.
The first programme in the three-part series features the story of six year-old Llew Davies, of Cymau, and his parents, Pete and Llinos. Llew has quadriplegic cerebral palsy with global delay, and is brought in to the ward due to a heavy cold. Because of his condition it needs to be dealt with swiftly.
Their story gives an insight into the pressures faced by parents of children with special health care needs. Pete gave up his job to become Llew’s main carer two years ago.
“It was a difficult decision, but I think it’s one of the better decisions I’ve made in my life because looking after Llew is so rewarding and I get to spend a bit more time with him,” he said.
“Obviously I’ve got to get up at 3am to see to him, but that’s part of my job, that’s part of being a carer. But you’ve still got to have the balance of carer and dad – I don’t want to be a carer all the time, I want to be a dad as well.”
Llew’s mother, Llinos, added that there were times when they dreaded taking Llew to the ward because they knew he would have to stay.
“It sounds awful but we don’t want to be in hospital all the time and there are some times when you can be there all day, just waiting to be seen because the doctors and nurses are busy,” she said.
“And when you think, I’m just about sorted, I’m fine... something else happens and you never can take your eye off the ball, because taking my eye off the ball means he dies.”
Just a few hours later, their decision to bring Llew into the ward is fully justified, when he develops pneumonia and part of his lung collapses.
At this point it is clear that Llew needs specialist care, and the ward calls for the assistance of NWTS – the North Wales and North West Transport Service – to take him to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool.
Llew spent two weeks at Alder Hey and made a full recovery.
The series is produced for BBC Wales by Criccieth-based production company Chwarel and, at a premiere screening of the series at Glyndwr University, director Sioned Wyn paid tribute to the staff of the ward for their help in making the programmes.
She said: “Wrexham Maelor children’s ward made us feel so welcome. They are an amazing team, and Wrexham is very lucky to have them.”
Cameras started rolling at the ward in May and filming took place over four weeks.
Martin McSpadden, Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s paediatric and neonatal service manager, said: “I am so proud of all the staff for being so open and allowing this programme to show the massive amount of hard work that happens in this ward.
“We were nervous about how this would happen and how it would be having the TV cameras watching us 24/7, but the producers were amazing and really helped us feel comfortable with the process.
“The families and patients have also been brilliant and shared the journey with us. It was a real privilege to have them be so open to taking part.”
Sioned Morys, a producer at Chwarel, added: “It is so important to see the amazing work that goes on in the children’s wards in North Wales.
“It’s important to show the work that happens, not just in the big hospitals like Alder Hey or Great Ormond Street, but also in the amazing children’s wards we have in our hospitals in North Wales.
“We already make a show called Ward Plant, which is based in Ysbyty Gwynedd, but we wanted to show the experiences of patients in North East Wales too.”
She added: “It was amazing to have families share their stories with us like this and we hope to back to Wrexham for a season two.”
Children’s Ward starts tomorrow at 8.30pm on BBC One Wales.