The first patients to have assisted robotic surgery in Betsi Cadwaladr and across Wales under an innovative national programme.
State-of-the-art surgical robots are now helping to treat colorectal and gynecological cancer patients in Wales as part of the new National Robotic Assisted Surgery Programme.
The National Robotic Assisted Surgery Program was introduced by the Welsh Government to improve outcomes for cancer patients by increasing the number of patients across Wales who have access to less-invasive, minimal access surgery (MAS).
MAS offers well-recognized benefits to the patients, when compared to open surgery, including reduced pain, scarring and recovery time.
In March of 2022 it was announced that Betsi Cadwaladr would be the first area to introduce this surgery with the first patients expected to receive treatment in June.
This would mean patients would no longer be required to travel to England to receive this surgery.
READ MORE: Betsi Cadwaladr: Robotic assisted surgery set to be introduced in North Wales
CMR Surgical’s Versius robot enables surgeons to perform complex procedures precisely and accurately, with the surgeon operating four robotic arms from an independent, open console.
After being delayed due to staff training, earlier this month, the first robotic cases were carried out within Gynecology at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
Prior to the first cases taking place, the theater team, which included surgeons, scrub nurses and operating department ractitioners, took part in extensive training to develop the core robotic skills needed to use the system.
Consultant Gynecological Oncologists Mr Richard Peevor and Miss Ros Jones were the first surgeons to use the robot.
Mr Peevor said: “We are proud to become the first surgical discipline to use robotics to treat our patients in North Wales.
“We will be offering this kind of surgery to women needing hysterectomies for gynecological cancer.
“Robotic-surgery has many advantages compared to open surgery; benefits include less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery.
“Here in Ysbyty Gwynedd we are the Gynecological Cancer Surgical Center for North Wales so having the robot available to us will really strengthen the service we already have in place for our patients.”
Carys Hughes, from Mynytho on the Llŷn Peninsula, was one of the first patients to undergo a bilateral removal of both ovaries using the robot.
She said: “It was quite exciting to be one of the first patients to be part of a ground breaking new service in North Wales!
READ MORE: Ongoing cancer battle won’t stop marathon runner in Trail Wales fundraiser
“I felt very at ease as the procedure was explained to me very well. I felt comfortable about the procedure as there are many benefits of using the robot due to it being minimally invasive and it also promises a faster recovery.
“I would like to thank the team at Ysbyty Gwynedd for the care they have provided me and I’m very pleased to see we now have this technology available for patients in our area.”
Towards the end of 2022, robotic surgery will be offered to selected Urological cancer patients at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Cardiff and Vale Health Board will be rolling out the service within Gynecology.
CMR has supported the implementation of the program through extensive onsite support and training, and will continue to support the program through a collaborative partnership with NHS Wales, Welsh Government, Life Sciences Hub Wales and Moondance Cancer Initiative.
Ana Raduc, General Manager, UK and Ireland at CMR Surgical, said: “At CMR, we are hugely excited to be part of this pioneering strategy, and welcome the leadership that Wales has shown in adopting an innovative approach that will deliver real benefits for the NHS, surgeons and most importantly, patients across Wales, by harnessing the power of Versius.
“We hope this program will demonstrate the merits of a country-wide RAS public health program as health systems worldwide face rising pressures and growing backlogs of elective care. Wales has led the way, and we encourage further discussion and best practice sharing on the merits of a national surgical robotics program with other UK nations.”