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Revolutionary robotic surgery at Watford to reduce hospital stays for cancer patients to 24 hours

Watford General Hospital is pioneering advancements in surgical care, with a recent investment in two additional state-of-the-art robots, the hospital is transforming postoperative recovery, allowing cancer patients to return home within 24 hours of surgery.

Since the inception of the robotic surgery program less than two years ago, approximately 360 patients have benefited from this cutting-edge technology and is projected to increase to 750 annually.

Historically, patients typically spent five days in the hospital post-operation, however with the introduction of robotic surgery has already reduced this stay to two to three days, with future goals set for 24-hour discharges. This significant reduction is attributed to the minimally invasive nature of robotic procedures, which result in less blood loss and quicker recovery times.

The hospital’s innovative ‘virtual hospital’ further enhances patient care. This award-winning system allows patients to recuperate at home while being closely monitored by medical professionals via specialised technology. From April 2023 to February 2024, this virtual care model treated 5,000 patients, saving an estimated 4,500 bed days and achieving an average patient satisfaction score of 9/10.

Nurse at Watford General Hospital, Laura payne, said said: “Patients that use the virtual hospital are all willing and want to be a part of it, they are never forced, surgery can be daunting and people have an expectation of how things will be after, so it’s about getting that understanding.”

Revolutionary robotic surgery at Watford to reduce hospital stays for cancer patients to 24 hours Harrow Online
Revolutionary Robots at Watford General Hospital.

The NHS Trust’s commitment to advancing robotic surgery is evident in its comprehensive training program for junior doctors and the upskilling of 14 surgeons. The robotic systems offer numerous benefits including enhanced precision, flexibility, and control, leading to safer operations with less pain and faster recoveries. These advantages also contribute to higher patient satisfaction and improved recruitment and retention of skilled surgeons.

In 2022, West Herts acquired two Versius robots, the highest number of any UK Trust at that time. The recent addition of the da Vinci Xi and Procept BioRobotic systems further cements their position at the forefront of medical technology.

The da Vinci Xi, renowned as the most advanced surgical robot globally, features a dual surgeon console, facilitating hands-on training for surgical trainees. This robot supports colorectal, upper gastrointestinal, gynaecological, and urological surgeries, while the Procept BioRobotic system is specifically designed for treating enlarged prostates. West Herts is among a select few trusts operating both types of robots, offering unparalleled flexibility and treatment options.

Specialist surgeon Vanash Patel, who leads the robotics program, expressed pride in developing a global centre of excellence for robotic surgery at West Herts: “Our investment in these advanced robots means more patients can benefit from quicker, less painful recoveries and return home faster. The future of healthcare is about leveraging technology alongside human expertise to provide the best possible treatment.”

Ginny St John Glew, a recent patient, shared her positive experience with robotic surgery and virtual hospital care following an early-stage cancer diagnosis: “After just two days, I was able to go home. The robotic keyhole surgery meant smaller wounds, and I could easily monitor my recovery using the virtual hospital app. The support from the Virtual Hospital team and the regular calls from my healthcare providers made me feel confident and well-cared for at home.”

The NHS Trust’s dedication to integrating advanced technology with exceptional patient care continues to establish it as a leader in robotic surgery, promising a brighter future for patients worldwide.