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The Undergraduate Office is in the Academy and is staffed by a friendly undergraduate team, consisting of the undergrad manager, administrator and the Clinical Fellows. They are your first point of call for any questions or queries while you’re on placement at Swindon.


Downsview House is located at the rear of the Great Western Hospital and is signposted from the main entrance.  Every effort is made to provide medical students with appropriate accommodation and where possible, on the same floor as their colleagues.

  • All rooms have en-suite facilities.

  • All rooms have Broadband internet.

  • Kitchens are fully equipped and there is a TV in each living area.

  • Bed linen, towels, duvets and pillows are supplied, and there is a regular cleaning service and weekly linen change.

  • Toiletries including toilet tissue are not supplied.

  • Communal laundry room on the ground floor.


There is a large common room on the ground floor has a kitchenette, vending machines and a television with Freeview.  During the working day, the room will be used as an additional class room for Undergraduate teaching only.

There is a large car park with free parking for all medical students on placement at Swindon, which is paid for by the Undergraduate Academy. There is also a secure and undercover bicycle store is located within the grounds



By Rail: The nearest main line station is Swindon, located in the town centre. The train takes 40mins and a Hospital Express Shuttle bus service (number 16) links the town centre to the hospital.

By Road: The Great Western Hospital is about a 45 minute drive from Bristol and isn’t usually too bad to get to as you’ll be moving in the opposite direction to most of the traffic if you’re leaving Bristol in the morning. The hospital is really close to junction 15 of the M4 motorway.  If using a sat nav, use postcode SN3 6BB.

By Cycle: If you’re really keen (& students have been known to), you can reach Swindon by bicycle via National Cycle Route 4. The hospital is also linked to the Swindon Cycle path network.  Bicycle parking is available outside the main entrance and various points around the hospital.



The Great Western Hospital is a modern district general hospital (it recently had its 10th birthday!), with more than 600 beds.

The idiosyncratic ward names take a while to get used to: the 2nd floor wards are named after trees (e.g. Beech: Gynae, Hazel: Maternity), the 3rd floor wards are named after birds (e.g. Linnet: MAU, Wren: Outpatients) and the 4th floor wards after named after planets (e.g. Saturn: Resp, Jupiter: CoE). Unfortunately the Sexual Health dept. (located on the 4th floor) has escaped this scheme; the potential for hilarity is obvious.

It is a friendly hospital and once you get used to the U-shaped layout, you should be able to find your way round without too much difficulty. Although a convenient route of entry, no responsibility is accepted for anyone attempting to access the hospital via the Shalbourne Suite (private wing). You have been warned.



Café Blue serves discounted Costa coffee as well as sandwiches and a decent selection of cakes.  Meals and snacks are also available in the hospital restaurant and the staff canteen which is referred to as ‘Bookends’ and is situated just off the Library on the lower ground floor.  


Simulation Training at Swindon Academy

Simulation training is a part of the curriculum here at the Great Western Hospital. Part of this involves using a SIM man model to re-create medical scenarios. Swindon has a well-equipped facility which opened in November 2012 and includes a control room with 1 way mirror, simulation room which can be adapted to simulate a variety of clinical environments (resus room, ward bay, operating theatre, GP surgery) and a debriefing room with audio visual links. Our SIM man has heart sounds, breath sounds, a pulse and a voice to make things as life like as possible. This allows students to practice using their clinical and judgement skills in a safe environment, without any risk of patient harm. The majority of our students really enjoy it and say it is one of the most useful forms of teaching!  


There are lots of additional educational opportunities available at Swindon, including an Evening Teaching Programme to support final years in the autumn term.  Details of these are advertised on the notice boards in the Academy, and via email. Swindon offers a number of exciting eSSC programmes in the summer which are advertised via the usual routes. This year (2012/13), they will include SSCs in Simulation and medical education as well as a group of students undertaking projects in Uganda.

CTA Programme

The Clinical Teaching Assistant (CTA) programme is new to the University of Bristol Academy at Swindon for 2012.  Similar programmes of training are already well-established in several medical schools in the UK. 

CTAs are laywomen who have a special interest in women’s health and improving medical education.  They have been recruited from the community to become clinical teachers and are specifically trained on how to deliver communication and consent tutorials as well as to teaching speculum and bimanual examination.


Training in pelvic examination can be difficult to acquire as a student.  Students are often anxious about hurting the patient, patients can be reluctant to be examined by students and doctors in clinic can be rushed and lack the time to teach you adequately.  The CTA session gives you a unique opportunity a) to learn both the technical and communication aspects of doing a pelvic examination in a relaxed unhurried environment and b) to receive feedback on your skills. 


All students on an RHCN placement at the GWH are required to take part in a CTA training session.  You will be guided through the procedure by two CTA’s and will be given the opportunity to practice on a conscious “patient” (one of the CTA’S) who will also give you feedback.  The training takes place in the gynaecology outpatients department.  


More details can be found in the brand new shiny Academy Handbook!


There is plenty to see in & around Swindon. Your time here will not be complete until you’ve been round the Magic Roundabout (the recommendation is not endorsed by Health & Safety) and seen the ancient White Horse at Uffington, a short drive from Swindon. Coate Water, which is a short distance from the hospital, is excellent for a healthy run or a romantic walk at sunset.

The Link Centre Facilities Available:


  • Ice rink

  • 25m deck level swimming pool

  • Climbing wall

  • Gym

  • Health suite

  • Fitness classes

  • Multi-purpose sports hall (eight-court)

  • 3G Outdoor Pitches

  • Squash courts

  • Snooker hall 

  • Free car parking

Health Hydro Facilities Available:


  • Two swimming pools

  • Gym

  • Turkish baths

  • Natural health clinic

  • Fitness classes


Swindon Tenpin Bowling

Swindon Tenpin Bowling centre has 32 bowling lanes, American and English pool tables, Amusements and a diner. This is located at Shaw Ridge Leisure Park, Whitehill Way, Swindon, SN5 7DN

Going Out

The nearest pub is just down the road from the hospital; they do an excellent knicker-bocker-glory.

Old Town has several good bars & restaurants, catering for all tastes. Especially recommended is ‘Los Gatos’ (excellent tapas!) but there is also a Pizza Express, Italian, Thai & Indian food on offer.

There are some pubs & bars in New Town (the town centre) but these can be a little rowdy…



The town centre (‘New Town’) has everything you need: Boots, Topshop, Debenhams, WHSmiths etc. etc. and there is a regular bus from hospital into town.

The nearest supermarket by car is probably Tescos, which is off Ocotal Way and also has a petrol station. If Tescos isn’t your thing, there is also a plethora of Sainsbury’s branches to choose from, including one in the town centre, a bigger branch across the other side of Swindon at Bridgemead (a bit of a mission to find so take a navigator!) and yet another just off the A419 (Oxford direction) so take your pick! For those of you on a budget, there is an Aldi just off the infamous Magic Roundabout which is good for fruit & veg., although the health benefits of the fruit & veg. are probably not offset by the inherent danger of the approach route…

Weekly Academy Sports

There is a netball team made up of staff & students, who meet on a Tuesday evening at Dorcan Sports Centre. The Academy covers the £2 charge.

There is a 5-a-side football team, again made up of staff & students who meet on a Monday evening at Faringdon Leisure Centre.

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