Surgeons use robots to carry out three operations at the same time in UK first

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Charlotte Briere-Edney

Surgeons at the Royal Surrey Hospital, which treats thousands of patients in north Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex today (12 March) carried out three identical operations simultaneously using robot technology - a first for the UK.

They performed two bladder removals and one combined cystectomy and total pelvic exenteration (rectal surgery) on the three cancer patients using the Da Vinci robots.

The robots are controlled remotely by specially trained surgeons, using them to facilitate keyhole surgery.

Royal Surrey Hospital surgical robots Credit: ITV News Meridian

Staff say the cutting-edge technology reduces trauma to the area being operated on and speeds up recovery.

Consultant Urologist Matthew Perry says: "With regards to robotics, the visual enhancements we get are outstanding, so 3D vision, close up, 10x magnification.

"We've got more accessibility to do finer detailed surgery, causing less trauma, so our patients get up and get better and go home quicker."

Even at the height of the pandemic, these surgical teams kept working by temporarily moving the robots away from the main hospital building, and its Covid wards, into separate operating theatres.

It has meant treatments could continue during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Da Vinci robots were moved away from Covid wards so that surgeons could continue treatments.

Peter Clark, 69, was one of the patients who underwent the robotic surgery. Peter first developed symptoms of bladder cancer in July, noticing blood in his urine.

He said before his surgery: "I had my prostate removed by these robots a few years ago and now I can't even find the scars as they are so tiny. It's much less invasive and the surgeons are able to be so precise it's amazing."