New training unit is officially opened

The Duchess of Northumberland and Dr Mark Sudlow, clinical director for simulation at Northumbria Healthcare, at the official opening of DASH at Northumbria. Picture by Gavin Duthie
The Duchess of Northumberland and Dr Mark Sudlow, clinical director for simulation at Northumbria Healthcare, at the official opening of DASH at Northumbria. Picture by Gavin Duthie

A new advanced NHS centre for simulation-based training has been officially opened.

The Duchess of Northumberland was guest of honour at the new state-of-the-art DASH at Northumbria, which is based at Wansbeck General Hospital.

The Duchess of Northumberland interacting with a patient manikin at the official opening of DASH at Northumbria. Picture by Gavin Duthie

The Duchess of Northumberland interacting with a patient manikin at the official opening of DASH at Northumbria. Picture by Gavin Duthie

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s newest centre is equipped with the latest technology and patient manikins and provides advanced training for staff and NHS employees from across the region.

Before unveiling a plaque, the Duchess interacted with the sophisticated manikins – computer-based patients which can breathe, talk, have audible heart and lung sounds and a measurable pulse rate, and can even be given drugs and fluids.

Purpose-designed with two six-bed bays and multiple training and teaching areas, DASH at Northumbria, is the largest facility in a hospital in the region.

DASH (Dinwoodie Assessment and Simulation Hub) is so-called as it has received funding from Dinwoodie Charitable Company, which was set up in the name of the late Walter Dinwoodie and his wife to ‘improve healthcare by advancing the development and dissemination of medical knowledge and skills’.

The centre has also received funding from the trust’s Bright’s charity.

In addition to training for NHS staff, the hub will be used as an assessment centre for trainee doctors from Newcastle University and host prestigious events for national bodies such as the Royal College of Surgeons and Royal College of Medicine.

The Duchess said: “I was delighted to officially open this excellent centre at Wansbeck General Hospital and see first-hand the facilities on offer which give NHS staff access to the latest technology.

“Not knowing quite what to expect, I was most impressed with the patient manikins and can see why they are extremely valuable tools for teaching and learning.

“It’s great to see Northumbria leading the way and Northumberland playing a role in helping train people working in the health service here in our region and right across the country.”

Dr Mark Sudlow, clinical director for simulation at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “In today’s constantly-evolving NHS, it’s essential for staff to have the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience of difficult clinical situations in a safe environment.

“Whilst as a trust we have used simulation training for many years, the development of this hub has meant we have been able to design a centre to meet our needs and offer these facilities to the rest of the NHS.

“We are indebted to the generosity of the Dinwoodie Charitable Company and our Bright charity for enabling this to happen and for putting us at the forefront of simulation training in this region.”

Dr John Gibson, from Dinwoodie Charitable Company, said: “This centre embodies what our charity is about and we are delighted to be involved and support a project in the North East for the first time.

“The advancement of clinical knowledge and skills is so important and we wish the centre every success in the future.”

The centre has a dedicated manager – Nicky Jenkins, with almost 20 years’ experience as a nurse in emergency care – and technician – John Stratford – to provide help and support to people using the centre.