All patients undergoing colorectal surgery at Colchester Hospital will now undergo the procedure with support from a robot, East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) has announced.
The trust has said that the hospital is the first in Europe to be able to make such a claim.
All six colorectal surgeons have completed their training using the Da Vinci Xi Robot, which is operated by a surgeon.
Robotic surgery has been offered for some patients having colorectal, gynaecological, urological or knee replacements during the last three years – but now all patients receiving colorectal surgery will have their surgery completed using the Da Vinci Xi robot.
The trust’s surgery programme began three years ago, and has since grown to include four surgical robots.
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Subash Vasudevan, general and colorectal surgeon at ESNEFT and chair of the robotic steering group, said: “This is a huge achievement for our robotics programme and a ground-breaking step for our patients who are able to benefit from the investment we’ve made into four Da Vinci robots we now have at the Trust.
“To achieve this milestone in three years whilst we were working through a global pandemic is a true testament to the vision of our executive team, and hard work and dedication of the hundreds of staff who have made this happen.
“The unique close working relationship we have between clinical teams, a dedicated innovation team and an executive team willing to put in huge investment has made this possible.”
The Da Vinci robot is formed of two parts: the first part, which comes into contact with the patient and is attached to several robotic instruments; and the second part, which includes a console that the surgeon operates.
On the benefits of the technology, Subash added: “There are benefits for surgeons too. It is less physically demanding during long operations as we’re able to sit at the console rather than stand for hours in very uncomfortable positions needed for conventional surgery.
“This is especially relevant for extending a surgeon’s working lifespan.”
Ipswich Hospital likewise completes a significant volume of its work using the Da Vinci Xi robot. With the recent theatre build on the Ipswich site, a similar transition to fully robotic procedures for all major colorectal procedures is expected in the near future.
Adrian Marr, director of finance, ESNEFT, said: “The Trust has made a significant capital investment of over £10m in robotic surgery over the last three years. We are now, as an organisation, seeing the benefits of this investment, with reduced length of stay and less re-admissions for patients, and a speedier rehabilitation programme.”