Stoneygate Trust and University of Leicester combine to create pioneering new Centre for Empathic Healthcare

The Stoneygate Trust and University of Leicester have combined to create a pioneering new Stoneygate Centre for Excellence in Empathic Healthcare.

This unique £10m Centre, co-funded by the University and The Stoneygate Trust, will ensure that medical students and healthcare professionals across the UK are taught about the vital importance of empathy as an integral part of all aspects of their medical training. 

As part of its work, the new Centre will develop and deliver empathy-focused training for undergraduate and postgraduate healthcare students and professionals in Leicester, with the aim of making this available nationally.

Leicester Medical School is currently the only institute in the UK to deliver a mandatory empathy-focused curriculum to its Foundation Year students, despite an increasing recognition of the hugely positive benefits that empathy can bring to healthcare provision. This training will now be enhanced and extended across the whole School.

The Centre will focus on empathy at all stages in medical training including for example, developing and refining recruitment selection criteria to proactively assess students’ aptitude for empathy when they apply for healthcare degree programmes. We will also further develop our complementary outreach programmes to continue to widen access for underrepresented groups to all areas of health and social care education.

The Centre will also undertake pioneering research into the impact of empathic care on both patients and practitioners, and campaign for empathy to be placed at the heart of our healthcare system.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester said: “Our vision is to create a Centre of excellence that will lead the sector in placing empathy at the heart of improved and effective healthcare for patients locally and across the UK.

“Through the expertise and dedication of the team, and with the generous and inspirational philanthropic support of The Stoneygate Trust, we will cement Leicester’s place at the forefront of the empathic healthcare movement, and as a world-leader in producing the most highly capable and empathic doctors and practitioners.”

Sir Will Adderley, Founder and Trustee of The Stoneygate Trust, said: “The Stoneygate Trust is delighted to build on the success achieved by Stoneygate and the University with the Leicester Medical Foundation Programme over the last five years. This has demonstrated the power of empathic healthcare and developed real champions amongst students from diverse backgrounds. 

“The University and the Trust together are now building a Centre of Excellence in Empathic Healthcare to train doctors to achieve both better outcomes for patients and increased resilience amongst healthcare professionals.  I am very excited by the far-reaching potential of this major initiative.”

Professor Richard Holland, Head of Leicester Medical School, said: “A medical school’s job is to create talented graduates with excellent knowledge, clinical skills, and ability to consult. At Leicester, our ambition has always been to take that mission further and ensure that our students also have a genuinely holistic and empathic approach to all their patients. 

“This unique Centre will allow us to undertake a step change in the way we educate and develop doctors of the future, to ensure patients feel that they have been cared for with empathy. I am excited to see the long-term impact that the work of the Centre will have on our students and their future patients.

“It is only through partnership with The Stoneygate Trust that we will be able to realise our shared vision.” 

Empathy is a complex term but in the clinical setting we take it to mean the ability to understand a patient’s perspective, their situation and feelings, being able to communicate this understanding to them and then acting on it, with the patient, in a therapeutic and helpful way.

The Stoneygate Trust is a charity established in 2007 by Sir Will and Lady Nadine Adderley, with a particular focus on medical research and helping to support equal educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged children and students.

The new Stoneygate Centre for Excellence in Empathic Healthcare is proposed to officially launch in Autumn later this year.