Surgeons at the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Musgrove Park Hospital, are set to start using robotic surgery for the first time in Somerset.

The new technique has been made possible by a £1.5 million commitment from the Musgrove Park Hospital League of Friends. The money will pay for a robot that will allow surgeons to perform surgeries that are less invasive and more intricate.

The new machine is known as a 'da Vinci Xi surgical system'.

Mr Paul Mackey, a consultant colorectal surgeon at Somerset FT, said: “This new development represents huge progress in the field of surgery – for the surgeon and the patient. We are so grateful to the League of Friends – it really is a fantastic gift.”

The Musgrove Park Hospital League of Friends have donated more than £4 million to Musgrove Park Hospital, paying for everything from resuscitators to water coolers.

Musgrove Park Hospital gets £1.5 million surgical boost – thanks to League of Friends
Musgrove Park Hospital gets £1.5 million surgical boost – thanks to League of Friends (NHS Somerset Foundation Trust)

Peter Renshaw, Chairman of the League of Friends, said: “It’s been an incredible effort by all involved and I would like to thank all those many people who have helped us.  

“It not only improves the life of patients and staff, but it helps ensure that Musgrove has the latest state of the art equipment, which helps with the recruitment and retention of the best staff. 

“The League has been supporting the hospital for more than 60 years. We are proud of what the funding has made possible and we’re particularly excited about the introduction of robotic surgery in the coming months.”

Commenting on the new robotic equipment, Mr Richard Bamford, one of NHS Somerset Foundation Trust's colorectal surgeons, said it was a great step forward for surgery in Somerset. He said: “The term ‘robotic’ often misleads people,”

He added: “Robots don’t actually perform surgery – the surgeon still does that using instruments that they guide via a console. “The system translates the surgeon’s hand movements at the console in real time, bending and rotating the instruments while performing the procedure. The tiny instruments move like a human hand, but with a greater range of motion."

“It also means we will be able to conduct more intricate surgery, which will be less invasive for the patient.” 

Dr Daniel Meron, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Somerset Foundation Trust, said:   “We are very grateful to our League of Friends and its donors for funding this exciting surgery."

“We want to embrace the latest cutting-edge technology, which can improve the care and treatment we are able to provide for our patients. “We hope this will be a real boost for our colleagues too and I’m looking forward to seeing our surgeons making full use of the robots.”