Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England medical director, visited the Royal Free Hospital this week to officially open its newly refurbished medical simulation centre.

The centre, which has been relocated to purpose-designed premises in the hospital, is one of few places in the UK to provide medical training on virtual reality simulators. 

The simulators help trainee surgeons to develop and perfect their skills by virtually replicating real-life procedures including endovascular surgery, laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, gastrointestinal and endoscopy procedures. This allows them to be confident that they are going into the operating theatre with the skills necessary to perform these procedures and then gather more expertise while under supervision in theatre with real patients.

The instruments that are used on the simulators are virtually the same as those used in live surgery and the image on the screen represents a very similar picture to that seen during a typical operation. They measure safety and efficiency parameters of the surgeon’s performance, leading to improvements in operative skill.

Sir Bruce was met by David Sloman, chief executive, and Professor Stephen Powis, medical director. He was given a tour of the unit by Bimbi Fernando, consultant transplant surgeon and simulation lead, and talked to staff including Professor Owen Epstein, professor of gastroenterology, and many other faculty members about how the centre facilitates learning and improves the patient experience as well as how it shares learning from the centre with other hospitals. 

Keogh said: “I have been hugely impressed with this state-of-the-art facility, the equipment and the quality of the training that is offered. Realistic simulators offer a valuable opportunity for clinicians to learn with no risk to patients. An educational facility of this quality is a tribute to the dedication, vision and leadership of the trust.”

The simulation centre also runs a range of courses to help train professionals in medical emergency scenarios. Last year the centre ran 3,500 training sessions and received two awards from the London Deanery for excellence in academic activity and productivity. 

Professor Epstein said: “The new centre is larger, brighter and more modern and includes dedicated laparoscopy, hysteroscopy, endoscopy and endovascular simulation rooms, as well as rooms for mannequin-based simulations, debriefing sessions and seminars.

“There are many benefits to the new centre. The simulation room, for example, where we use high-tech mannequins to train professionals in a range of emergency procedures, includes cameras, allowing a live link up to the seminar room for training purposes.”


Notes to editors

  1. For media enquiries on this press release, please contact
  2. For more information about the medical simulation centre, go to
  3. The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, haemophilia, surgery for hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB) conditions, clinical neurosciences, renal, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and is a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.