Gloucestershire Royal Hospital among first to use mobile robotics in surgery

  • Watch Max Walsh's report (Warning: This report contains images of surgery)

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital has become one of the first NHS hospitals in the country to use mobile surgical robots for operations on the oesophagus, stomach and gall bladder.

Since July, the machines have been used to help treat more than 20 patients. They have been described by consultants as 'the future of surgery' and say their precision means there is less bruising and swelling and therefore faster recovery times.

Geoff Clinton has spent more than two years struggling to eat solid foods. He was diagnosed with the rare condition achalasia which means his oesophagus blocks food from entering his stomach.

The 72-year-old is one of the first people in the country to undergo surgery at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital with the help of mobile robots.

He said: "I feel a bit anxious like but it's the future isn't it? It's something that has to be done and people have got to learn how to use it. I think it will be great because I haven't had a decent meal in two and a half years. You get fed up of eating soup."

Surgeons are still required to set up the surgery by inflating Geoff's torso with carbon dioxide and using cameras to identify the correct positions for the machines.

A surgeon controls the robots while watching on a high definition screen. Credit: ITV News

The robots are controlled by a surgeon on a nearby computer with high-definition screens and cameras on display around the operating theatre so the whole team can clearly see what is happening. The procedure is over in less than an hour.

Consultant surgeon, Simon Higgs, says the benefits of the robots mean there are less hand tremors meaning fewer complications.

He said: "If you can be more precise and more accurate as a surgeon then you're less likely to lose blood you're less likely to have complications related to the surgery.

"If you have fewer complications like that then you're more likely to do better and go home quicker and cost the NHS less money and all the benefits that go with that."

Simon said this is just the beginning. In the coming months they will be used on more complex operations as well as helping to treat cancer.

Geoff came back home just 24 hours after the operation. Normally a patient could expect to wait three days in hospital. He says he cannot wait to start eating proper food again.