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Simulation at the heart of hospital training

Simulation-based training is being used at Great Western Hospital in a wide variety of areas to help drive improvements to patient safety.


Deep in the heart of Great Western Hospital is a set of rooms that appear to be like any other treatment room but where no real patient will ever set foot.

This is the hospital’s simulation centre complete with a wide range of equipment and props – uniforms, bandages, blood banks, monitors - that are used to recreate real-life medical scenarios.

Here clinical staff are presented with highly-realistic simulated situations which they must work through to help them to identify ways to improve patient safety on ward.

Watching over this is Dr Michael Natarajan who has been supported by HEE to develop simulation-based training at this major acute training hospital.

“We started by looking at “never events” – events that should never happen such as a wrong drug, a wrong dose or a wrong transfusion. It caught on so fast that it has expanded so that we are working with many departments across the hospital.

“We want to highlight aspects that are not working well and look at the guidelines and protocols surrounding this.”

Dr Natarajan saying this is proving a highly effectively way of identifying often simple improvements that can have a significant impact.

For example, there was no resuscitation equipment in the endoscopy unit and it could take up to five minutes to get it from another department in situations where every minute counted. As a result the unit now has its own equipment.

Simulation training is being widely used across the hospital including with work with maternity staff, care of elderly, highlighting safeguarding and child protection issues, providing experience for foundation doctors and trainee nurses, and helping multi-disciplinary teams to better work together.

It is being used to enable clinical staff to develop the skills and confidence to help them challenge senior colleagues where they believe a mistake is about to be made.

The simulation training is also being shared with partners and the wider community with mock emergencies, such as a cycling accident, staged within the hospital grounds for trainee para medics to attend and a recently multi-stage simulation for college students to help show the breadth of job opportunities within the NHS.


This Page was last updated on: 13 June 2016

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