1. ITV Report

Britain's first formal university teaching hospice created in Leeds

University building Credit: University of Leeds

St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds is to become the first formally recognised university teaching hospice in the UK, following an agreement with the University of Leeds.

The hospice, the largest in Yorkshire, will mark its new status at a launch event this September.

It has been supported by NHS Health Education England and reflects the long-standing relationship between St Gemma’s and the University of Leeds, providing a stronger platform for teaching and research in the future.

The new permanent extended relationship provides increased capacity for Leeds students to study palliative care in practice at St Gemma’s as part of their degrees.

Raising the profile of palliative care research nationally and internationally, and ensuring the sector has a continued flow of expert medical and managerial personnel is a key feature of the new relationship.

Catherine Malia, nurse consultant at the hospice, with Natalie Woodhouse a medicine student at the university Credit: University of Leeds

Research undertaken by the St Gemma's academic unit of palliative care demonstrated that provision of information to patients about pain and effective use of painkillers leads to reduction in patients' pain levels.

As a result, we have developed patient information resources which educate patients about their pain, how to take pain killers safely and effectively and dispel some of the common fears associated with strong pain killers. We routinely provide these materials to patients when we are advising them to use pain killing drugs.

– Catherine Malia, Nurse Consultant at St Gemma's Hospice

The hospice and the university joined forces in 2011 to appoint Professor Mike Bennett as the St Gemma’s professor of palliative medicine. Professor Bennett leads the Academic Unit of Palliative Care based at the University’s Leeds Institute of Health Sciences and at St Gemma’s Hospice.

The hospice has provided university teaching and training in the form of a postgraduate healthcare course for more than 20 years and works with around 200 medical students per year to develop their skills in this area.

Mike Bennett, the University’s Professor of Palliative Medicine, Natalie Woodhouse, a medicine student at the university and Dr Christopher Jones who just graduated as doctor from the university. Credit: University of Leeds

The work we have carried out together has ensured St Gemma’s staff and volunteers have had the most up-to-date education in standards of care, based on evidence from ongoing research programmes.

Formalising this partnership between two of the city’s most respected organisations means patients for years to come will continue to be well supported. It also provides an opportunity to raise the profile of teaching and research in palliative care nationally.

Ultimately it means the people we look after will be treated in the best way possible and, as patients’ needs change over time, we will always be in a position to adapt because of the new research which will be carried out.

– Professor Mike Bennett, University of Leeds