Dr Ranj on Call: Meet the robot transforming surgery in the NHS

New technology could soon be helping transform surgery in our hospitals, it's been revealed.

Robots with flexible arms are now operating on NHS patients - and could reduce patient recovery times and pain.

ITV's very own Kylie Pentelow went to see the robot - known as Versius - which is used to perform keyhole surgery, for her new programme, Dr Ranj on Call.

I used to watch Tomorrow’s World as a child and always wanted to present that show when I grew up.

For those who don’t remember, it looked at the amazing tech of the future.

Seeing Versius for the first time felt like my dream had come true.

For the first episode of Dr Ranj On Call I filmed a piece of technology that looked like something from a sci-fi film - something that could help save lives.

The robot’s separate arms operate like a metal octopus.

But this creature isn’t controlled by some evil overlord, it’s a highly skilled surgeon who operates it.

Robot, Versius, is predicted to decrease the amount of time a patient spends in hospital - and has already saves its hospital 175 bed days.

Milton Keynes Hospital is using Versius to perform minimal access surgery. It's aim is to reduce patient recovery times, and also limit the stress on the surgeon.

It's Barrie Keeler who is operating today. He sits in the corner of the theatre - wearing 3D glasses he appears to be playing a complex computer game.

Today his challenge is to operate on a bowel cancer patient.

As I walk in and see him in action, I'm surprised by how quiet the room is. It's dark so Barrie can see the image on the screen clearly, and I assume it's so quiet because of the need to concentrate. No second chances here.

The robot is designed for keyhole surgery. The surgeon performs their task sat down.

Before he took to the controls, Barrie told me how the robot has changed what he does:

The instruments themselves they’re a lot more delicate and movable than standard keyhole equipment. It’s a modular system which means we can use as many or as few arms as we want - we can use it in an operation here in the morning then move it and use it in the gynaecology theatre for a hysterectomy in the afternoon which means we can get a lot more use out of it.

Barrie Keeler, surgeon

This is a 10 hour surgery, but because Barrie can sit throughout, it's much less gruelling.

As they continue their work, I head out of the theatre to find out if this technology can help the NHS. Jennifer Kearney, Associate Director of Operations at the hospital tells me it absolutely will.

We are predicting a reduction in the length of stay.

Jennifer Kearney, Associate Director of Operations

The company behind it hasn't revealed the price tag for Versius but says it's made to be cost effective within the NHS - and it's already in talks with other NHS trusts.

As Barrie and his team continue their work, I watch in wonder as this tech of tomorrow, has become today's reality.

  • YOU CAN WATCH DR RANJ ON CALL ON ITV TUESDAYS, 7:30PM