Surgeons at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (FT) are set to begin using robotic surgery for the first time in Somerset – thanks to a £1.5 million commitment from the Musgrove Park Hospital League of Friends

The money will buy a da Vinci Xi surgical system, which will enable surgeons at the hospital to perform more intricate, less invasive surgery.  It means that robotic surgery could now be used in a number of different disciplines within the hospital.

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.

Over the last five years the League of Friends has provided more than £4 million to Musgrove Park Hospital, including recent funding for equipment – not just large items but small items that can make a real difference to patients and colleagues, such as chairs, resuscitators, dementia kits, water coolers and training aids

None of this would have been possible without a number of legacies over the last couple of years, as well as donations by individuals and organisations.  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 Somerset FT’s colorectal surgeons, said it was a great step forward for surgery in Somerset. “The term ‘robotic’ often misleads people,” he said. “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 Somerset FT, 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.”

Peter Renshaw said that much of the money raised by the League came from legacies, adding: “The gift of a legacy can make a real difference even 20 or 30 years later and I would encourage people who have benefitted from care and treatment at Musgrove to consider making arrangements in their Will. It’s a great way to give something back in a way that really helps people.”

Pictured (left to right): Miss Shelly Griffiths – General Surgery Consultant, Mr Richard Bamford – Colorectal Consultant, Dr Jasmine Lucas – League of Friends, Miss Louise Hunt – General Surgery Consultant, Mr Edward Smyth – Consultant Surgeon.