A state-of-the-art surgical robot is improving cancer care for patients in Merseyside and Cheshire

  • Report by Granada Reports correspondent Andy Bonner.

Liverpool football legend Sir Kenny Dalglish and his wife Marina have helped a hospital buy a high-tech robot to treat cancer patients.

The £2 million robotic arm allows surgeons to operate in the smallest of spaces - reducing the need for major invasive operations and could help speed up recovery for head and neck cancer patients at Liverpool University Hospitals (LUHFT) in Fazakerley.

It was paid for thanks in large part to a donation by the Marina Dalglish Appeal (MDA), set up by the family in 2005 to support other cancer patients after Marina was successfully treated for breast cancer at Aintree in 2003.

The million-pound donation was match funded by the Hospital Trust and the new device - called the Da Vinci Single Port (SP) surgical system - is already helping skilful surgeons treat their patients.

Marina Dalglish operating the da Vinci SP Credit: Gareth Jones

Jason Fleming, Consultant Head and Neck Surgeon at LUHFT, was the first NHS consultant to operate the surgical system at Aintree.

He said: "This next generation robot is really tailor made for operating through the mouth.

"So it's going to help us reach more tumours in difficult to reach areas of the head and neck and therefore offer a minimally invasive surgical approach to more patients."

He added: "Tumours of the throat (tonsils and back of tongue) are rising globally, but especially in North West England, with smoking and human papillomavirus (HPV) exposure as major causes.

"In Liverpool we have a long record of pioneering minimally invasive surgery, but now with the addition of the da Vinci SP, we will be able to offer the latest technology to a region with the greatest need."

Patient Dave Pope undergoes surgery with medical staff operating the robot. Credit: ITV News

Patient Dave Pope, 65, from Frodsham in Cheshire, was one of the first to have his tumour removed thanks to surgery using the robot.

Dave, who lives in Frodsham, said: "At the first appointment in March with Mr Fleming, he told me about this new robot and that I’d be one of the first patients to have surgery with it.

"If it helps more patients like me to be seen and treated quickly, with fewer side effects and a faster recovery, it can only be a good thing.

"I’d urge anyone who is unsure about their symptoms or if you feel that something isn’t as it should be, to go and get it checked out. Acting on your concerns may be the best chance of an early diagnosis."

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