SCOTTISH PATIENTS are to start receiving hi-tech robot-assisted surgery from the start of next year, it was announced yesterday.
The Scottish Government has given £1 million towards the £2.8 million project to install robotic-assisted surgical systems in Aberdeen.
They will first be used to treat prostate cancer, with patients from across Scotland and not just the Grampian region benefiting.
Within three years it is hoped further equipment will be made available in the central belt, and patients with other diseases will also be able to benefit.
The technology, which is already in use around the world, mimics the surgeon’s hand movements through remote controls to perform minimally invasive surgery.
It means that very intricate tasks can be performed from a distance, with surgeons viewing the process in 3D high definition video images.
The Scottish Government is investing up to £1 million to complement the fundraising efforts of UCAN, the urological cancer charity in the North of Scotland, to purchase the Robotic-Assisted Surgical System (RASS).
It will be used in two new state-of-the-art theatres at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary from next year.
The Scottish Government said it was the start of a process to deliver nationwide robotically assisted surgery and it would be working closely with boards and cancer charities to plan who best to deliver these services across Scotland.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer among men in Scotland. That is why we must do everything to ensure that men have access to the most advanced treatment available.
“The Scottish Government is determined to adopt this kind of surgical innovation that can make such a difference to recovery.”
Mr Neil said the announcement was “just the starting point” for robot assisted surgery in Scotland.
“I want to see robot-assisted surgery available to patients right across the country, with another robot in the central belt within the next three years, and we are already working with health boards and Prostate Scotland to make this happen,” he said.
UCAN chairman Professor Sam McClinton, a consultant urological surgeon, said: “This is fantastic news and we would like to thank the Scottish Government for helping us to achieve our aim of bringing Scotland’s first robotic surgical system to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
“We’d also like to thank all those who have supported the Robotic Surgery for North Scotland campaign to date, including the individuals and companies who donated money as well as NHS Grampian and its endowment fund for their generous support.”
The Scottish Government has established a working group to work with health boards and the prostate cancer charities across the country to plan the introduction of the technology to make sure that patients across the country have access.
Prostate Scotland welcomed the announcement yesterday. In a statement, the charity said: “The decision to site the first facility in Grampian comes as a surprise and we await practical details on how this machine integrates into provision of care for men in the rest of Scotland.
“These plans also need to take account of the available clinical expertise available from robotically trained surgeons working in Glasgow and Edinburgh.”