United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) invested more than £3.2 million into the service behind the state-of-the-art system, which was used with the first patients in February 2022.
The introduction of this equipment to operating theatres at Lincoln County Hospital has meant that urology and colorectal cancer patients needing complex robotic surgery as part of their treatment have been able to stay in the county for their care.
Robotic assisted procedures are carried out by a surgeon sat at a special console connected to a robot which is designed to mimic the surgeon’s hand movements, enabling them to perform delicate procedures through the smallest of incisions.
The robotic assisted procedures are less invasive, and use a standardised approach, which reduces risks during surgery and post-operative complications. The average patient who has robotic surgery will be expected to go home earlier and have a faster recovery.
Previously there was no such robotic system in Lincolnshire.
Consultant Urologist Aris Alevizopoulos, ULHT’s lead clinician for the robotic system, said: “In the last year, we have offered robotic surgery to more than 270 patients, which exceeds our predictions for the first operational year. Patients with complex urological and colorectal conditions did not have to travel to other sites for their robotic procedures, instead having these at Lincoln.
“As a result of this new service, our patients have been able to access their care in a more timely manner and closer to home, with equal if not better outcomes. For cancer patients, apart from the expertise, and the level of training of our surgeons and theatre staff, time efficiency is equally important.
“In this year we managed to train our staff to superior standards, optimise our robotic theatre function, but also appoint and incorporate new surgeons. These surgeons, already experienced in minimally invasive surgery, have been able to transition from open and laparoscopic surgery to robotic surgery, in the smoothest possible way. In our second year of implementation, we will have four urological and three colorectal robotically trained surgeons.”
Mr Alevizopoulos added: “Over the next year we hope to offer robotic procedures to a bigger group of patients by introducing more specialised procedures and increasing the scale of patients who will benefit from robotic surgery.
“This is fantastic news for our patients and the NHS in Lincolnshire.”
Neil Periam (56), from Spalding, was among the patients to have a robotic surgery procedure in Lincolnshire.
Mr Periam was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2022 and had a robotic prostatectomy in December 2022.
He explained: “A close relative was diagnosed with prostate cancer about 18 months ago and he had his prostate removed by robotic surgery. I had no symptoms but I was advised to get checked as soon as possible.
“I visited my local GP and gave a blood sample and was found to have a high PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) level. I had an MRI scan and biopsy and was diagnosed in September. My surgery was scheduled in November and it happened in December.
“The care I have received has been excellent. I stayed in hospital in Lincoln for one night after surgery and the after care has also been great, with lots of telephone contact. I also went to A&E with a concern and someone from Urology came to review me within the hour. It was really reassuring that my relative had undergone the same robotic surgery but the staff also explained everything to me.”
Mr Periam, a biology and chemistry teacher, was able to return to work about six weeks after his surgery.
Mr Periam added: “I would encourage others to get tested if they have symptoms or are identified as being at risk. I was symptom-free and had no idea until my relative had symptoms and got tested.”