The TV documentary series that has exposed crisis bed shortages within the NHS and the cost of “health tourism” by foreign patients is to return for two more series, the BBC announced today.

Hospital, which is filmed across Imperial College Healthcare including St Mary’s and Charing Cross hospitals, has revealed how surgical teams are at times unable to operate due to the lack of intensive care beds.

Described by critics as “extraordinary” and “brilliant and brave”, it has also shown how the NHS remains able to perform near-miracles despite the extent of the pressure it faces.

Pioneering operations have included heart surgery on a 98-year-old man. It also showed how Imperial was left with an unpaid bill in excess of £330,000 after a Nigerian woman turned away from the US went into labour on a flight home via Heathrow. Two of her four babies died.

The second series will focus on maternity care and mental health at Imperial. The location for the third series is yet to be decided. The first six-part series, which ends tonight, has averaged 2.5 million viewers per episode.

Patrick Holland, Channel Editor, BBC Two, said: “The first series of Hospital was everything I want BBC Two to be. It is timely, brilliantly made and challenging TV. It was editorially brave to make a series with such a short turnaround but it felt so timely for the audience.”

Simon Dickson, executive producer at filmmakers Label1, said: “Edited and broadcast within a few short weeks of filming being completed, it’s Britain’s first fast turnaround blue-chip documentary series. The audience figures prove that people crave the freshness and insight it offers.”

Future series will also extend beyond the hospitals to look at primary and social care, to understand in greater detail the complex relationship between them and the NHS.

Michelle Dixon, director of communications at Imperial, said: “Hospital has given us the opportunity to show the amazing care and commitment of our staff as well as the growing challenges we face as we respond to the changing needs and demands of our patients.
“It’s so important to develop a shared understanding of what’s happening in the NHS and what’s at stake. While the first series has provided a great insight to a whole range of issues and services, there is still much more to see.”