More than 380 patients have benefited from reduced pain and faster recovery times since The Royal London and St Barts Hospitals welcomed two surgical Da Vinci robots a year ago.
In that time the hospitals have established a reputation as world leaders in robotic surgery.
St Bartholomew’s has the only dedicated heart and lung (cardiothoracic) robot, while The Royal London is the fastest expanding multispecialty robotic service in the NHS, being used across six services.
Celebrating the anniversary, the teams held an event on 4 October which was attended by patients, staff and health care partners from across the UK to show the difference the £5.5million equipment – funded by Barts Charity – is making to patients.
One such patient is Anne Bishop, 53, who was operated on in June using the robot to remove colon cancer. Anne is now cancer-free, and having chemotherapy to ensure all cancer cells are gone.
Anne explained: “This is the second time I have had treatment for colon cancer, the first when I was 25. Now, nearly thirty years later, I’ve recovered more quickly thanks to the robot and have less scarring.
“The less invasive approach is better for both your body and mind, and you can make a really good recovery. Even my GP is staggered at how well I look. I’m very grateful to the team.”
Young patients from The Royal London’s children’s wards became robotic surgeons during the celebration, controlling the robots mechanical arms to complete games and puzzles, and hospital teams competed to complete dexterity games in the quickest time.
Elly Brockbank, consultant gynaecological oncologist at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Robotic surgery is rapidly gaining momentum within the NHS and we are proud to be among the forerunners. I am delighted that our robotic assisted surgery programme is proving such a success.
“Our vision now is that the next 12 months will be even more successful, with even more patients benefiting from robotic surgery and us striving towards future surgical innovation to further improve outcomes for our patients.”
Dr Kathy McLean OBE, executive medical director and chief operating officer at NHS improvement, added: “I am encouraged that Barts Health has embraced robotics surgery for the benefit of both its patients and staff.
“This innovation will allow patients to spend less time in hospital, improve their recovery, and it will allow frontline staff to do more – all of which will be key components of the long-term plan.”