NHS Scotland has announced that it will invest around £20 million in ten new surgical robots.
The new machines will help boost hospital capacity across Scotland, as well as perform less invasive procedures.
With this new investment from the Scottish Government, the total number of similar surgical robots across the country will increase to 13. They use mechanical arms attached to cameras and surgical instruments, operated by a surgeon from a console within the theatre.
By making significantly smaller incisions than required for traditional surgery, the new technology reduces the risk of complications, shortening recovery times, and allowing hospitals to treat more patients.
The Robotic-Assisted Surgery systems, procured by National Services Scotland (NSS), will be used primarily for cancer treatment, including urological, colorectal, and gynaecological operations.
While similar existing robots in Scotland have been used for prostate cancer surgery and thoracic surgery, the new investment will expand the number of procedures that can be performed with robotic assistance.
These new robotic systems can access hard to reach areas of the body – such as the pelvis, chest, or oral cavity – allowing surgeons to undertake precise and complex cancer surgery while avoiding making large wounds. No only that, but they have more advanced capabilities compared to similar robots, helping NHS Scotland deliver minimally invasive cancer services.
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, who saw one of the systems at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said: “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.
“This 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. They will also reduce waiting times and provide us with regular data so we can continue to improve our health service.
He added: “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.
“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.”
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The surgical robots will be based in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lothian, NHS Tayside, NHS Grampian, NHS Fife, NHS Golden Jubilee, and NHS Highland.
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.”