Vanash Patel, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, United Kingdom
How would you describe the progress of RAS in recent years?
2022 saw incredible progress within surgical robotics at my hospital — we installed two surgical robots and increasing the number of specialties using the systems. The biggest challenge I faced personally was starting an RAS programme in a year where we had significant post-COVID-19 waiting lists and squeezed finances.
But with the biggest challenges come the most reward. In the months since we’ve incorporated Versius into our team, we’ve had a really positive response from patients. Whilst it’s too early for objective statements, as we don’t yet have a large enough data set, patients who have received RAS so far haven’t reported as much pain, particularly around the port sites, and I’ve noticed a reduction in interoperative blood loss. I’ve also been able to perform a bowel cancer resection on a high BMI patient, which I don’t think would have been possible via laparoscopy.
What are your key focus areas for RAS in 2023?
The training of surgical trainees is likely to be a key focus in 2023. Once consultants have been trained and are skilled, we need to train the future generation of surgeons. The main barriers are the costs of training programmes. However, as more and more consultant surgeons become trained, they will then be in a position to train trainee surgeons. We must continue to have close collaboration with the robotic industry and healthcare institutions to make this happen.