Surgical trainees from across North East England are gaining hands-on experience of robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) with da Vinci surgical systems as part of a UK-first programme designed to train the next generation of surgeons.
More than 30 surgical trainees in urology, colorectal, HPB, and upper gastro-intestinal from NHS trusts across the North East are enrolled in the landmark programme, which is designed to give access to technology training on a da Vinci surgical system at an earlier stage in a surgeon’s career.
The da Vinci Academic Surgical Trainee Programme is run by the Newcastle Surgical Training Centre (NSTC) in partnership with Intuitive, the global leader of RAS and developer of the da Vinci surgical systems that are used across trusts in England.
Blazing a trail
Professor Alan Horgan, consultant colorectal surgeon at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the co-director of the Newcastle Surgical Training Centre and believes the training programme has huge benefits for trainees in the region.
He said: “This means a lot to the Newcastle Surgical Training Centre and also to the trust – to be the first of its kind in the UK, and indeed in Europe, to be running a surgical training programme which will allow all trainees to become proficient in robotic surgery by the time they complete surgical training.
“For our patients this is great news as there will be more and more surgeries being performed robotically in the future and it means their surgeons will have been trained at an early stage to perform these procedures and they can take full advantage of the technology.”
Existing practice within the NHS sees surgeons begin training to use a robotic-assisted surgical system once they have qualified as a consultant, limiting the access a trainee surgeon can have to this pioneering technology.
For our patients this is great news as there will be more and more surgeries being performed robotically in the future and it means their surgeons will have been trained at an early stage
To date, more than 66,000 surgeons have been trained to use the da Vinci surgical system worldwide.
And last year Intuitive became the largest provider of robotic-assisted surgical technology training to receive accreditation by The Royal College of Surgeons of England.
To enable trainee surgeons to become proficient sooner in their careers, Intuitive has developed a structured curriculum for trainees to participate in robotic-assisted surgical procedures with da Vinci surgical systems, which incorporates key elements of its established Technology Training Pathway.
David Marante, regional director at Intuitive UK and Ireland, said: “We are excited to collaborate with healthcare institutions in the North East to run the UK’s first programme to train the next generation of surgeons to use da Vinci systems.
“We look forward to working with this cohort of trainees over the next three years who represent the future of surgery here in the UK, as they go on to utilise our technology to support the NHS in improving outcomes and productivity and delivering better overall experience for patients while lowering the total cost of care.”
The gold standard
Trainees will use Intuitive’s digital learning platform and the My Intuitive App throughout the programme, enabling them to access operational data during their training.
These industry-leading tools allow them to analyse trends, see how their learning is progressing, and share their data with mentors to review and learn from.
In my opinion, robotic-assisted surgery is the gold standard of care and robotic-assisted surgery represents the future for surgeons, so I am grateful to have been involved in this and to have access to train on such innovative technology
the da Vinci surgical system.
Abraham Joel, a senior registrar in upper GI surgery, is taking part in programme and said: “In my opinion, robotic-assisted surgery is the gold standard of care and robotic-assisted surgery represents the future for surgeons, so I am grateful to have been involved in this and to have access to train on such innovative technology.
“The ability of this training programme to record and track progress is so important, too, both for our own learning and for the oversight of our mentors.”