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The UK’s NHS needs no introduction but  the Vital Signs podcast brings to life the tears, drama and joy happening on a daily basis in one of the largest and busiest hospital trusts in Europe with unrivalled access to behind the scenes action.

This podcast was devised between the NHS and Distorted as a direct spin off to the BBC’s 8-part television series Saving Lives in Leeds which was broadcast in 2023


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Leeds Teaching Hospitals is one the largest and busiest acute hospital trusts in Europe. In 2023 the BBC aired an 8-part television series Saving Lives in Leeds which was an access all areas look at what goes on in the busy hospitals. Following on from the success and building on the momentum the Trust approached us as they wanted to extend that reach and invite listeners to take a deeper dive into some of the key areas of the hospital’s work and to allow listeners behind the curtain of what takes place in the hospital and audio was the perfect way to do this.


We knew we wanted as much access as possible when we set about planning this podcast series. Recording audio can be inconspicuous and the amount of kit we needed to take with us when we record on location is small compared to video content so we knew we could speak to people easily in and around the hospital and at a moments notice. From busy emergency wards and helipads to operating theatres and patient rooms we wanted to meet and understand the people working and being treated within the hospital setup.


The podcast gets close to the patients and staff at the NHS Leeds Trust and brings out the human story to what can often feel like an alien, remote and simply overwhelming place. With many NHS stories of strikes and cuts in the press the NHS can often evoke feelings of anger, worry and something that is lacking love. We wanted this podcast series to shine a light on the care, love and transformational power our NHS has.

Hospital Employees



Hospitals are busy places and the recording of content for staff and patients isn't the priority. We had to be flexible with our recording times and agile with our recordings to minimise any disruption to staff and patients.


Treating thousands of people a week across so many different departments and specialties the task of narrowing down which stories we wanted to tell was a tricky one. We worked to integrate areas that the hospital was looking to promote into our storytelling and meeting teams who deserved more exposure.


Medicine is unpredictable and so the ability to evolve the story as we went was a must but did mean we had to tweak our story arcs on the fly at times as recording sessions and days changed direction quickly.



From ‘A day in the life of the Major Trauma Unit’ to ‘A journey through liver transplantation’ the four-part podcast series captures the daily lives of the incredible people and services at Leeds Teaching Hospitals in an immersive and completely compelling way.


Each 30-minute episode brings several voices together to explore a particular speciality they work in. We explore topics like the power of play at Leeds Children’s Hospital, where we delve into how children are prepared physically and mentally for treatments. We look at how transplants actually born from tragedy can go on to transform up to 9 more lives and the impact that has. There is so much the listener can learn in each episode, all told through the voices of the people making life changing decisions everyday.


The podcast was a huge success and is one of the trusts most downloaded podcasts to date. The message reached beyond listener downloads with lots of national and regional press activity (26 pieces in total comprising of online, print and radio)  and acted as a great internal comms tool for the trust.


The podcast series has been nominated in the recently announced New York Festival awards in the "Best Podcast" category. These are prestigious awards with entries from all over the world.

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Over 20 separate interviews with patients and staff


Nomination for Best Podcast at New York Festivals


Seperate pieces of local and national PR.


“I was keen to take part in this new podcast series, to reveal some of the behind-the-scenes activity at work in a large and incredibly busy teaching hospital such as Leeds. We undertake some exceptional work here in Leeds, not just for patients in the city, but as a specialist centre for patients travelling from further afield. To be able to spotlight some of those services and the complex number of people involved, is a really great opportunity.”

Shahid Farid - Consultant Transplant Surgeon

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