Surgeons at Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust achieved two significant milestones in the week that marks World Cancer Day.

The Stokes Centre for Urology team completed their 4,000th robotic-assisted procedure and across the whole Trust, the number of operations using robot technology reached 7,500.

We are so proud that the Stokes Centre that we co-funded, continues to be a centre of innovation and excellence, ensuring patients receive the very best treatment and care for their prostate cancer.

The milestones reinforce the Trust’s status as one of the top three hospitals in the country performing surgical procedures using minimally invasive robotic procedures, which reduce blood loss during surgery, side effects and shorten the length of hospital stay for patients.

Wissam Abou-Chedid, Consultant Urology Surgeon, said: “We are currently one of the highest volume urology units in the country for robotic assisted procedures.

“Using our state-of-the-art robotic technology allows us to meticulously perform complex operations, giving great control and accuracy with a small ‘key hole’ incision. The result is that patients benefit from quicker recovery times and less blood loss and discomfort following their surgery.”

The patient who found himself at the centre of the Urology Team’s 4,000 robotic-assisted prostatectomy milestone achievement was 53-year-old Mark Jefferson, a primary school Headteacher from Chichester.

He said: “At the start of my cancer journey late last year, it became clear that I had to opt for one of two pathways, either active surveillance or radical prostatectomy. Being a teacher, I didn’t have the knowledge to be able to make such an informed decision but with the help and support of Mr Abou-Chedid I felt very much part of the decision process in relation to my treatment pathway.

“After my referral, he discussed both options with me and gave me that extra time to think things through and I was able to contact him once I was happy with my decision. I know my care, and the care of those on the same journey, is central to everything Mr Abou-Chedid and the Stokes Centre team strive for. When I had made my decision, Mr Abou-Chedid took further time to talk me through both the procedure and the important things I should do to prepare for surgery to help mitigate some of the potential complications following on from that.

“My procedure took place in the afternoon, so I spent a night at Royal Surrey and whilst it was only one night, I had visits from both Mr Abou-Chedid and the specialist urology nurses to check on my progress.

“Like those 4,000 patients who have gone before me, I am truly grateful for both the clinical expertise and the collaborative care of the team at Royal Surrey’s Stokes Centre for Urology. What they have achieved and continue to achieve is world class, not just in treatment but also in care.”

Thanks to the work of prostate cancer charities raising awareness of checking for prostate cancer risks in men, the numbers of prostate cancer patients is on the increase. In 2019, 300 prostatectomies were carried out at Royal Surrey, compared to 504 in 2023.

To tackle the increasing demand and reduce waiting times for cancer patients, the Urology Team has introduced a number of innovative projects to help cope with the pressures.

In 2023, the Urology Team organised two ‘high intensity theatre days’ (HIT days). These involved four separate teams of surgeons and theatre staff focusing on carrying out a number of robotic assisted radical prostatectomies (surgery to remove the prostate gland) to safely complete a week’s worth of patients in one day.

Another idea introduced by the Team has included same-day discharge for low risk radical prostatectomy patients who are able to recover in the comfort of their own home following their surgery, freeing up hospital beds within the Trust.

A self-remove catheter option is also available for patients recovering from the same procedure, allowing them to simply and easily remove their own catheter without the need to return to hospital.

Prostate Project Trustee and Consultant Urological Surgeon, Matthew Perry, said: “We need to be creative in the way we tackle increased demand on our services and the Urology Team have been very effective at coming up with ways to safely improve experience for patients, reduce waiting times, while maximising the use of our resources. The Trust’s investment in our cutting-edge robotic technology is playing a vital role at the heart of this drive.”

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