NHS Scotland has invested around £20 million in 10 surgical robots in a bid to complete less invasive procedures on cancer patients and boost hospital capacity across the country.
The ‘robotic-assisted surgery’ systems will bring the number of similar operating machines in Scotland to 13.
According to health secretary Humza Yousaf, who saw one of the systems at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, the new technology will “transform the experience of surgery for hundreds of patients every year, while easing the pressure on surgeons with shorter procedures that are less physically demanding to carry out.”
He added: “They will also reduce waiting times and provide us with regular data so we can continue to improve our health service. Crucially, these robotic systems will help to attract a broader pool of surgeons to work here, so we can build a stronger NHS Scotland for the future.
“The remobilisation of the NHS is one of our most urgent priorities, and we will be publishing a national recovery plan for the NHS soon. Thanks to the expertise of National Services Scotland, we have been able to ensure equal access to health boards across the country, making this technology available to as many people as possible.”
These new robotic systems will be predominantly used for cancer surgery. They are able to access hard to reach areas of the body – such as the pelvis, the chest, the oral cavity – allowing surgeons to undertake precise and complex cancer surgery while avoiding making large wounds.
While existing robots of this kind in Scotland have been used for prostate cancer surgery and thoracic surgery, this expansion in numbers means that we are now able to offer robotic surgery for colon, gynaecological, urinary-tract system, spine and head and neck cancer.
Claire Donaghy, head of external affairs (devolved nations) at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “Surgery is the most common treatment for bowel cancer, which is Scotland’s third most common cancer, and central to curing the disease. But it’s often open surgery, which can mean a long recovery time for patients.
“Robotic-assisted surgery is less invasive and can reduce the time spent in hospital recovering by up to five days. We’re delighted the Scottish Government has invested in additional robotic-assisted surgical systems so more people across the country have access to this innovative technology.”
The surgical robots use mechanical arms attached to cameras and surgical instruments, operated by a surgeon from a console within the theatre.
This technology makes significantly smaller incisions than required for traditional surgery, reducing the risk of complications, shortening recovery times and allowing hospitals to treat more patients.
They will be based in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lothian, NHS Tayside, NHS Grampian, NHS Fife, NHS Golden Jubilee and NHS Highland.