Ground-breaking technology and the most advanced surgical robot in the world, are transforming peoples’ lives here in Lancashire

Few people are aware that here in Lancashire we are leading the way in medical technology, having one of the most advanced robotic surgical systems in the world.

The Da Vinci xi is one of just three surgical robots currently in the UK – the other two are at the Royal Marsden in London and there is also one in Birmingham.

The robot is the result of an inspired fund-raising campaign led by the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, based in the Royal Preston Hospital, where the robot has been installed.

The campaign, to mark the foundation’s 20 year anniversary, has raised almost £1,124,000 and a further £750,000 is now needed to keep the Da Vinci xi at the centre, which provides all radiotherapy and specialist diagnostic services and surgery, complex chemotherapy and other highly specialised care for patients.

The appeal’s launch was an ambitious ask as Dan Hill, Rosemere Cancer Foundation’s head of fundraising, explained: “The robotic surgical system has made a huge impact. Patients who would have been in hospital for seven to 10 days following conventional surgery are now in and out within 48 hours of keyhole surgery performed using the Da Vinci xi.”

He added: “To all those who have resolved that this year is going to be the year they get fit by running a half or full marathon, swimming a mile or climbing Scafell Pike, could I please ask you to consider being sponsored and to do it for our appeal.”

Members of the surgical team using the robot have now undertaken around 200 procedures using the advanced system, which has tiny robotic ‘fingers’ that can be manoeuvred with such accuracy and precision, they are capable of removing the skin from a grape without damaging the flesh underneath.

One of the team using the system is Egyptian-born consultant surgeon Tarek Hany, who ran a marathon in Berlin to raise £1,420 towards the Da Vinci xi.

He explained: “We are already seeing a marked reduction in hospital stays thanks to the precision provided by the robot technology. It is yet another piece of absolute commitment by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals in providing the highest quality of care to patients in Lancashire and North Cumbria.”

Last month the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation at Preston hosted a special demonstration enabling guests to see how this latest surgical robotic system is improving outcomes for cancer patients.

The presentation evening included presentations by urology, colorectal and gynaecology consultants, who described the procedures and benefits of robotic surgery.

Ioannis Peristerakis, consultant colorectal surgeon said: “We are extremely grateful to the Rosemere Cancer Foundation for raising funds to help us purchase and bring the most advanced surgical robot to our hospital.

“Patients from throughout the region now have the opportunity to receive surgical treatments of the highest quality, using cutting edge technologies. We are delighted with the initial outcomes of robotic bowel surgery, showing significant improvement in the speed of recovery.”

The new robot, which was on view for visitors to see, can bend and rotate 360 degrees, making it much easier for surgeons to access parts of the body that are difficult to reach. It can also undertake complex procedures using keyhole incisions rather than open surgery, reducing the risk of complications and enabling a speedier recovery.

Bachar Zelhof, consultant in urology said: “The robot allows the surgeon to have a three-dimensional view of the surgical field with greatly increased magnification using fine articulating instruments.

“Thanks to these robotic features, many kidney cancer cases that were previously being done as a complete kidney resection are now performed as a partial resection with kidney preservation. This allows not only complete removal of cancer but also maintaining kidney functions, which helps patients to return to their daily lives with a minimum of inconvenience, despite having undergone major surgery.”

Bringing gold standard surgery technology to the centre has transformed many patients’ lives as Arnab Bhowmick, consultant in general surgery explained: “Most people associate cancer treatment with radiotherapy and drug therapy. However surgery is the definitive treatment for the majority of patients and it is vital that we can offer patients the latest techniques and treatment.

“The robot allows us to provide lifesaving treatment for patients who may not be suitable for more traditional surgery.  It’s less invasive, so risk is reduced and recovery is quicker. And it’s amazingly precise so it’s highly effective. The entire surgical team has embraced this technology and everyone is keen to be trained so they can provide the best option possible for their patients.”

Funding of the Da Vinci xi is one of a trio of appeal projects, the other two include a new, state-of-the-art research facility at the centre, which will enable more patients to participate in clinical trials, giving them access to the very latest medicines and therapies, and the refurbishment of the centre’s in-patient ward.

For further information on the Rosemere Cancer Foundation 20 Years Anniversary Appeal, visit



Tedd Walmsley

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