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State-of-the-art surgical robot improving cancer care

Patients are set to benefit from even more precise surgery thanks to the installation of a new state-of-the-art surgical robot at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM). The Intuitive da Vinci Xi dual console robotic system costing £2.0 million has been funded by the Denise Coates Foundation as part of their support for the development of the Trust's cancer services which has been delivered via an £8.4 million grant to the UHNM Charity.

The technology enables surgeons to perform advanced robotic procedures using cutting-edge technology.

Dorothy Wynes, 79, of Cheddleton, near Leek, underwent robotic surgery following the discovery of a polyp in her bowel, identified via a home testing kit.

Today the great grandmother has spoken about her appreciation for the treatment she received at UHNM, saying: "When you go into hospital your life is in their hands and I couldn't have wished for better hands.

"I'm recovering well from the surgery and my last tests in April were clear.

"There's nothing to be worried about with the surgery, I would tell anyone to go for it. I was very well looked after and everyone was lovely."

Robotic surgery has been performed at UHNM since 2017. Over the past five years more than 340 major colorectal cancer resections have been carried out. There are now five trained surgeons in the unit, with training in progress for the sixth surgeon.

Mr Philip Varghese is consultant surgeon and lead for colorectal robotic surgery at UHNM. As robotic proctor he is involved in training surgeons nationally.

Mr Varghese said: "This new robotic ecosystem is state-of-the-art and will help us take patient care to the next level at UHNM. Our aspiration is to become a leading robotic colorectal unit nationally with all surgeons trained.

"By year end we will have eight colorectal surgeons trained and the rest by the end of 2023."

The integrated Intuitive Surgical Da Vinci SimNow robotic simulation system provides surgeons with specialised content to support their learning over time. The dual console also enables training of surgeons and higher surgical trainees which then facilitates joint operating for complex procedures.

The system has 47 skills exercises, 19 3DHD clinical videos and 30 procedure simulations which allows for practice of system skills, procedures training exercises and virtual reality experiences.

UHNM's robotic colorectal unit will be soon be starting robotic training for

colorectal trainees under Health Education England (HEE) West Midlands.  

The robot ecosystem also includes integrated table motion to dynamically control patient position during surgery.

Advanced ultrasound probes used intraoperatively will enable surgeons to perform targeted advanced cancer surgery and localisation of tumour in the kidney, pancreas, and liver-enabling targeted surgery. The system has a secure digital hub connectivity which enables procedures to be captured for training and review.

The robotic system is a key part of UHNM's plans to develop state-of-the-art cancer services at the Trust, the total investment of £8.4 million will comprise eight further elements when fully delivered.

Mr Achilleas Tsiamis, clinical director for surgery, said: "At UHNM our aim is to deliver outstanding cancer care for the population of Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent and beyond. Our excellent reputation attracts the best and brightest clinical staff and the generosity of the Denise Coates Foundation will help us to continue to develop our training programme and services.

This will benefit patients and staff for generations to come." 

Lisa Thomson, Director of Communications and UHNM Charity, said: "We are extremely grateful for the support of the Denise Coates Foundation. They funded a range of activities during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to help us enhance and develop the best care possible.  Their funding continues to make a significant difference to both the lives of our staff and our patients."