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First patients in Wales treated with Versius surgical robot as part of national programme

CMR Surgical (CMR) – the global surgical robotics business – has announced that the first patients in Wales have been treated as part of a new all-Wales National Robotic Assisted Surgery Programme, using the Versius Surgical Robotic System.

Colorectal patients at the Cardiff & Vale University Health Board have begun to receive successful robotic-assisted surgery with the Versius surgical robot. In north Wales, at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, cases have started in gynaecology.

The National Robotic Assisted Surgery Programme 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-recognised benefits to the patients, when compared to open surgery, including reduced pain, scarring and recovery time. Versius enables surgeons to perform complex procedures precisely and accurately, with the surgeon operating four robotic arms from an independent, open console.

Jared Torkington, Lead Clinician for the National Robotics Assisted Surgery Programme and Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at Cardiff & Vale University Health Board: “We are hugely excited about the start of a unique, networked robotic programme in Wales, designed to improve the quality of surgery, attract and retain staff and work with the public in highlighting the importance of early presentation and existing screening programmes in Bowel and other cancers.”

Mr Richard Peevor, Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, who will be one of the first surgeons to use the robot, added: “We are proud to become the first surgical discipline to use robotics to treat our patients in North Wales. We are offering this surgery to women needing gynaecological procedures, including hysterectomies. Robotic surgery has many advantages compared to open surgery; benefits include less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery. Here in Betsi Cadwaladr we are the Gynae Cancer Surgical Centre for North Wales so having the robot available to us will really strengthen the service we already have in place for our patients.”

Later this year, two further health boards will start using Versius for surgical cases. The programme is expected to expand to cover upper GI and urology in addition to colorectal and gynaecology.

The all-Wales programme aims to standardise patient care across the country, and will mean that patients will not have to travel to England for robotic procedures. The programme will also benefit from research generated through CMR’s global clinical registry, which consists of real time data on surgical procedures, helping to build a benchmark to support surgical standards within robotic assisted surgery (RAS). Additionally, it is expected that the innovative approach to surgical care will enhance recruitment and retention within the surgical workforce.

CMR has supported the implementation of the programme through extensive onsite support and training, and will continue to support the programme through a collaborative partnership with NHS Wales, Welsh Government, Life Sciences Hub Wales and Moondance Cancer Initiative. CMR was appointed as the industry partner for the programme following a competitive procurement process.

Ana Raduc, General Manager, UK and Ireland at CMR Surgical, commented: “At CMR, we are thrilled to be a part of this pioneering strategy, and welcome the leadership that Wales has shown in adopting an innovative approach that will deliver real benefits for NHS Wales, surgeons and most importantly, patients across the country, by harnessing the power of Versius. We hope this programme will demonstrate the merits of a country-wide surgical robotic public health programme as health systems worldwide face rising pressures and growing backlogs of elective care. Wales has led the way, and we encourage a further discussion and best practice sharing on the merits of a national surgical robotics programme with other UK nations.”

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