Robots revolutionise cancer surgery during difficult pandemic year | News

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Robots revolutionise cancer surgery during difficult pandemic year

Robotic surgery taking place

Around 600 patients with cancer and other serious conditions benefited from state-of-the-art robotic surgery at Royal Surrey last year, thanks to two new machines acquired by the Trust.

To highlight World Cancer Day on 4 February, we want to show how the additional robots are helping Trust patients and celebrate that we are the first Trust in the UK to have four of these machines on one site, one of which is used for training.

The robots are predominantly used for cancer surgeries and, in particular, prostate, bladder and gynae-oncology procedures. They will enable surgeons who specialise in different cancers, such as oesophageal, bowel, liver and throat cancer, to start undertaking robotic procedures.

Benefits for patients can include reduced trauma to the operating site, thanks to the miniature instruments of the robots, fewer complications, less blood loss and faster recovery times.

During the first wave of the pandemic, the team took the decision to move its services to a dedicated theatre area within a protected area. This protected the team’s ability to deliver this work for the cancer network across Surrey. Partnership working has also played a vital role in continuing high volumes of cancer surgery in Surrey during this current wave. There are two dedicated cancer surgical hubs, one based at the Queen Victoria Foundation Trust and one in Guildford - a partnership between the Royal Surrey Foundation Trust and the Guildford Nuffield hospital.

Mr Matthew Perry, Clinical Director of Urology, said:

“The new robots are a great addition to the Trust and will facilitate faster recovery times for our surgical and cancer patients.

“The robots allow us to have a better view of the surgery, thanks to their high definition, three-dimensional cameras and have many benefits for patients and staff.

“We always get asked whether the robots are performing the surgery solo, but they are used in conjunction with a human surgeon who will operate them.

“We have seen lengths of stay halved after a robotic surgery, compared to traditional surgery – for example after a bladder cancer operation, a patient might expect to stay in hospital for two weeks, but using robotic surgery this is more likely to mean a stay of five days.

“By sharing more about the kind of innovative surgery we are continuing to carry out during the pandemic on World Cancer Day we hope to remind people: if you have any signs of cancer or concerns, no matter how small, the NHS is here for you and you should speak to your GP.”

Louise Stead, Chief Executive at the Trust and Chair of the Surrey and Sussex Cancer Alliance said:

“Our teams are doing a remarkable job of continuing to perform many complex cancer surgeries for people across our cancer network. Partnership working involving colleagues and organisations from across Surrey and Sussex is having a huge impact. It is just one example of the way that healthcare teams across the region have been working together to make sure people can continue to access vital treatments as quickly as possible.

“We’ve put safeguards in place to protect people during the pandemic. If you need medical advice and have appointments with us, don’t wait: we are here for you.”

Professor Stephen Langley, Professional Director for Cancer, added:

“The willingness of staff to embrace new technology and practices to provide world class outcomes for our patients is phenomenal.”

Angela Richardson, MP for Guildford, has previously seen the robots during a virtual visit to the Trust, and said: “I was absolutely fascinated to watch the robots in action at Royal Surrey and tremendously impressed by the surgeon’s skills in using the new techniques and equipment.

“The skill required to become a surgeon, even without the robots, is no mean feat. To then be able to adapt and acquire the ability to operate on a patient while sitting at a distance using a screen in the corner of the room is just astonishing. I was truly in awe watching this taking place.

“I’m so proud of the hard work that all of our NHS teams are doing and it’s great to see Surrey is leading the way with ground-breaking robotic innovation in surgery and by doing so dramatically improving outcomes for patients in our area.”

The Trust last year performed an average of 600 robotic surgeries - one of the highest numbers in the UK.


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