Donor’s legacy will help train future surgeons

Nick Taylor cutting the ribbon to open the new surgical simulation suite (photo: Paul Smith)

The last wish of a former surgeon is helping medical students at the University of Leicester to follow in his footsteps. 

John Taylor’s £25,000 legacy donation has helped pay for a new ‘surgical simulation suite’ for undergraduate medical students to ensure their training encompasses up to date and innovative surgical skills that are not taught elsewhere in the curriculum.  

The suite, in the Robert Kilpatrick Clinical Sciences Building at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, was officially unveiled this week (21 September) by John’s brother, Nick, a practising GP, who was joined by his daughter, Kate, a former Medical student at the University. 

Nick said: “My brother always wanted to be a surgeon. He was passionate about patient care and safety, along with teaching. When he was a training to be a surgeon none of this equipment existed so it’s fantastic to know this suite will provide the resources needed for future surgeons. I know John would be incredibly pleased that his legacy has been spent so wisely.”

The suite will allow students to practise basic surgical skills such as suturing and knot tying along with some advanced skills including abscess drainage and manual skills required for laparoscopic surgery. Money has also paid for vascular phantom models which have allowed the role out of an ultrasound guided vascular access course for the University’s medical students. 

Professor Kevin Harris, Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, is a former colleague of John’s during his time at the University.

He recalled their time as junior doctors, saying: “John was an incredibly caring, humble, and empathic clinician at a time long before anyone had thought about what empathy meant for doctors. For all the reasons he was great for patient care, he was equally as wonderful to work with.” 

Dr Adam Bonfield, one of the Leicester Medical School simulation fellows, said: “We’re incredibly grateful for this generous donation and wanted to ensure it had as much connection with John and his surgical skills as possible. 

“The development of the suite will enable undergraduate students to practice vital skills they might not otherwise see until they shadowed a surgeon through a procedure. It will undoubtedly help to improve their motor skills, a key component of surgical training.”

All those who attended the opening of the new surgical simulation suite (photo: Paul Smith)

Students will have the opportunity to use the suite under the supervision of postgraduate surgical teaching fellows. The two laparoscopic trainers will help students to learn laparoscopic manipulation skills and then to further develop and refine those skills.

The room is set up for small group work of 6-8 students at a time to ensure they get high quality guidance and feedback from tutors. Funding was also added by the University with the overall cost of the suite coming to £37,500. 

Dr Elena Dickens another simulation fellow added: “We hope the suite is a fitting tribute to John’s legacy.”

John studied medicine at Cambridge and Guy’s Hospital in London, completing his training in Leicester and Liverpool, including a spell at the pioneering pancreas transplant unit in Minnesota, before returning to Guy’s as a consultant in 1994. At Guy’s he established the pancreatic transplant programme that was his passion for the rest of his surgical career.

During his lifetime, John gave to annual appeals at Leicester over several years. He died of mesothelioma in 2014, and left a gift of £25,000 in his will to the University Medical School.