In February 2010, Lord Ara Darzi, former health minister, officially opened the new simulation centre at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. The state-of-the-art simulation centre, which has been built primarily to train over 1,000 healthcare staff over the next two years, is an exemplar of the NHS’s commitment to improve patient safety.
“It’s all about investing in the workforce in healthcare” said Lord Darzi. “One of the greatest assets of the NHS is the people who work in it. Investing in that talent is what this unit is all about.”
Medical simulation for all
The project was spear-headed by two of the Hospital’s Consultant Anaesthetists, Dr. Debbie Rosenorn-Lanng, also Director of Simulation and Dr. Anna Gregg. The centre caters for the on-going training needs of doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics and all allied health professionals to ensure that their skills are refreshed, updated and ready, particularly in the area of emergency care.
'You name it, we can re-create it'
Recognising that ‘human factors’ can play a significant role in patient outcomes, Debbie points out that effective team performance is critical for improving patient safety. Highlighting the benefits of medical simulation as a means of preparing for emergencies, she continues, “It’s all about attitudes, communication skills, the team working together and resource management. We can do intensive care scenarios, theatre scenarios, situations in the ward….. any type of emergency. You name it, we can re-create it here.”
Realism is key
A core part to the medical simulation exercise is the patient itself. SimMan 3G, SimBaby and SimNewB are the patient simulators that challenge a steady flow of trainees and their professional skills in a wide range of adult, paediatric and neonatal clinical scenarios. “The manikin is brilliant”, continues Debbie commenting on SimMan 3G. “It is much more realistic than manikins previously were. The pupils react to light and it has breath and heart sounds so that you can get feedback.” Following a simulation exercise, trainees added in agreement, “The reactions are incredibly realistic.”
Building a safer healthcare system
In the wake of the 2009 Chief Medical Offer’s report recommending that medical simulation ‘will be a vital part of building a safer healthcare system’, Lord Darzi’s closing remarks reflected that vision - “It is investing in the future.”