RTE Liveline callers blast Rotunda Hospital documentary as 'tone deaf'

By Emma Nevin

Callers to RTE's Liveline have blasted the Rotunda Hospital documentary that premiered on the broadcaster last night.

The first episode of the six part series aired on RTE on Wednesday and many were unimpressed that the production was allowed, while partner's access to maternity hospitals was so limited.

Joe Duffy said that according to statements, the camera crews were tested on a regular basis, but one caller Nadine questioned why partners of mothers were never offered that.

She said: "I'm sure partners would have been happy to be offered that."

She felt that the documentary "used people's misery for entertainment for the public."

Nadine said: "People got the worst news of their life. I know people who walked in for their twelve week scan and got told that their baby had no heartbeat.

"Everything you can think of, and crew members were allowed walk in and out and ask people if they wanted to partake in that show.

"That could have been their partner sitting there talking to them, not a crew member."

Another caller, Kate, expressed concerns about the statements released following criticism of the documentary.

She said: "I'm not happy with the statements that are coming out about the programme.

"The production company are saying that there are six cameras and they were just installed in the delivery suites and that's not true when you watch the programme.

"You can see a roaming camera in the shop, in the theatre, in the NICU."

Kate pointed out that it's not just missing happy moments that is the issue, but some partners had to find out news that their pregnancy had ended tragically while sitting out in their cars.

She said: "Whether or not the majority of the filming was done on remote cameras some of it wasn't and people getting the worst news they'll ever get in their live are sitting out in the car or missing the delivery of their baby, yet non essential staff are allowed into the hospital."

Another caller, Linda, was equally unimpressed with the documentary.

She said: "I did sit down and watch the programme last night because I really couldn't believe that this would be allowed happen.

"That an RTE crew would be allowed into a hospital when people were told that they had to go through everything on their own.

"And really when I sat down to watch it I was shocked that they didn't actually address the restrictions at all."

Joe read RTE's statement on the documentary out on air, which said: "We believe it is in our public service remit and our objective in making the series is to offer an important insight into Irish life in 2021.

"For filming this season, we reduced our footfall in the hospital to the bare minimum, with a lot of filming taking place off site.

"The majority of filming in the hospital was recorded by remote cameras controlled from outside the filming.

Strict Covid-19 prevention and controlled protocols were followed by the production."

Joe Duffy sent a query into RTE asking if the crew were vaccinated during filming as production started in November 2020, and RTE responded by saying they would not be commenting outside of their previous statement.

The Liveline host was not impressed with this response, labelling it as "not good enough".

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