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Largest robotic surgery programme in UK to tackle COVID backlog


Posted on Monday 7 June 2021
Extra surgical robot

Robotic surgery at Guy's and St Thomas'

Guy's and St Thomas' has taken delivery of a new surgical robot to help speed up cancer operations delayed by the pandemic.

The new addition brings the total number of robots to four at the Trust which makes it the largest robotic programme in the UK.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ already owns three 4th generation da Vinci surgical systems – based at Guy’s Hospital – and has struck a deal with manufacturer Intuitive to take a fourth on loan for the rest of the year. It will operate on NHS patients from the private floors of the Cancer Centre at Guy’s as part of a collaboration with HCA Healthcare UK.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ already carries out the most robotic operations in the UK with around 1,100 cases a year. The extra surgical robot will increase that number by over 300.

Ben Challacombe, clinical lead for robotic surgery at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “Taking a robot on loan is a creative solution to the backlog of cancer and other complex operations caused by the pandemic and a real win for our patients.

“The benefits of robotic surgery include increased operative precision, leading to less pain, smaller scars and less time in hospital so patients can recover quicker.

“We are always looking for new and different ways to deliver the best care and our partnership with Intuitive and HCA Healthcare UK is a perfect example of that.”

Robotic surgery is most commonly used for prostate, bladder and kidney removal at the Trust. The da Vinci surgical systems are also regularly used by the thoracic lung cancer team as well as the gynaecology, ear, nose and throat and maxillofacial departments.

During a robotic procedure, surgeons control the robot’s four arms from a console in the same room. They look down a small camera on the end of one arm to see inside the patient and the machine gives them a 3D HD view while they operate, eliminates tremor and provides an increased range of movement.

David Marante, regional director of Intuitive in the UK and Ireland, said: “The pandemic has highlighted that there is a need for a transformative approach to the NHS’s recovery, and the use of our da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical technology aims to improve outcomes for patients and lower the total cost of care in ways that have never been more pertinent.

“We are dedicated to doing all we can to provide innovative solutions to the NHS to continue to tackle the surgical backlog and expand access so that more patients can benefit from minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery.”

Janene Madden, CEO of Private Care at Guy's, part of HCA Healthcare UK said: "We are proud to be working with Guy's and St Thomas' and Intuitive to extend access to robotic surgery to more NHS patients. This is part of our partnership with the Trust to support the delivery of time critical complex care throughout the pandemic."

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