Professor Robert Winston marks Trust's first anniversary of Schwartz Rounds

Professor Robert Winston has marked a year of sessions for Imperial College Healthcare Trust staff to talk about the emotional and social challenges of caring for patients, by attending a panel discussion with clinicians and managers on overcoming adversity in their working lives.

The sessions, known as ‘Schwartz Rounds’, are a globally recognised forum in which staff can share their stories of working in a hospital and offer support to one another. In doing so staff at every level of the organisation are able to share the emotional burden of their jobs and feel more supported.

More than 500 members of staff have attended the 14 Schwartz Rounds held at the Trust this year including consultants, nurses, physiotherapists, laboratory technicians, psychologist, discharge coordinators and palliative care staff. Topics discussed have included: 

a patient I’ll never forget
what will be, will be
why I do the work I do
when I made a difference
shattered expectations
making decisions on the spot

Feedback has shown that the Rounds have helped staff to feel more connected to their colleagues, with 95 per cent feeling the group discussion was useful for them and 94 per cent planning to attend another session. 

Lord Winston said:

“Hospitals are challenging places to work so it is vital that staff have an outlet through which to channel the emotional stresses and strains of the job. It’s clear that the Schwartz Rounds have made a significant difference to staff at the Trust and I am pleased to be able to mark the first anniversary by sharing experiences of my own.”

Dr Tracey Batten, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said:

“The Schwartz Rounds have proved extremely valuable and have helped to build a greater sense of connectivity and community between staff from all parts of the Trust. We are very grateful to both Macmillan Cancer Support and Imperial College Healthcare Charity whose support has allowed us to establish this forum.” 

May Nel, a respiratory physiotherapist who volunteered to take part in the first Trust Schwartz Round, said:

“The whole experience of the Schwartz Round convinced me I’m not alone in suppressing my feelings at work. The pent up emotions can have a negative impact on how we interact with colleagues and patients so having a safe space to release some of this tension is a real benefit for staff. It’s so important to maintain your emotional well-being if you want to cope and thrive professionally in a healthcare environment. 

“The Schwartz Round helped me to lighten my emotional load. Everyone had the opportunity to hear how others are affected by their working environments, and to empathise. It certainly helped me to realise I’m not weak or crazy for having certain feelings – they’re perfectly human.” 

The Schwartz Rounds at the Trust are funded by Macmillan Cancer Support and Imperial College Healthcare Charity.

Notes to editors

1. Schwartz Rounds were developed in Boston USA, to promote compassion in healthcare, at the request of Kenneth Schwartz, a prominent lawyer who had cancer and observed the personal side of staff looking after him. Schwartz Rounds offer staff from all disciplines, both clinical and non-clinical, a safe and reliable space to reflect. 

2. Schwartz Rounds follow a standard model to ensure that they can be replicated across settings. They normally take place once a month for an hour and comprise a panel of three or four staff who share their experiences for the first 15-20 minute before trained facilitators lead an open discussion. They do this by asking participants to share their thoughts and reflections on the stories. The key skill is for the facilitators to steer the discussion in such a way that it remains reflective and does not become a space to solve problems. 

3. Schwartz Rounds were brought to the UK in 2009 by the Point of Care programme at The King’s Fund and continue to be implemented by the Point of Care Foundation.

4. Read more about May Nel’s experience of Schwartz Rounds on her blog for the Trust.

5. Macmillan and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust have been working together for 20 years to improve cancer patient experience. There are now around 50 Macmillan professionals working at the Trust – including 27 clinical nurse specialists, as well as speech therapists, counsellors and a consultant in cancer rehabilitation.  In 2014, work began to develop a more strategic partnership between the two organisations, to build on the already excellent survival rates being delivered by Imperial College Healthcare, whilst responding to feedback gained from the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey that services could be improved by providing a more joined-up, compassionate and personalised level of care. The Macmillan Navigator service is an example of this. You can find out more about Macmillan Cancer Support and the partnership with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust at

6. Imperial College Healthcare Charity raises funds for five London hospitals within Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust: Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea, St Mary’s and Western Eye hospitals. Since 2009, the charity has awarded over £20 million in grants to over 400 pieces of clinical research and healthcare projects across the hospitals, all of which aim to improve patient healthcare