CMR Surgical (CMR) and Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) have announced results from their Versius® Robotic Assisted Surgery (RAS) programme, with major impacts reported on recovery timelines, patient outcomes and surgical staff wellbeing.
MKUH’s decision to implement a RAS programme was driven by a desire to offer a minimal access approach to patients who would not have otherwise had access in order to improve patient outcomes and experience, and reduce cancellations in operations due to non-clinical reasons. In England, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, around 1% of the 8 million yearly elective operations were cancelled at the last minute for non-clinical reasons, including lack of ward or critical care bed availability.
At MKUH, this translated to around 160 patients per year having their elective operations cancelled for non-clinical reasons. By partnering with CMR on the delivery of a multi-speciality Versius RAS programme, following the first 242 procedures with Versius, MKUH has saved 450 bed days per year – exceeding the anticipated saving of 175 bed days per year in the original business case.ii The programme includes multiple surgical specialties, including gynaecology, colorectal, and general surgery, with a complex patient population including a high proportion of obese patients.
MKUH saw particular success in gynaecological outcomes. Prior to MKUH’s investment in a Versius RAS programme, in gynaecology, less than half of the 450 women requiring soft tissue surgery annually were offered a minimal access approach. MKUH was the first hospital to implement a Versius Gynaecology programme in Europe.
Katy Philpott, Associate Director of Operations, Women and Children’s Health Services, Milton Keynes University Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust explained: “For those women who were not offered MAS, the majority required five days in hospital and three or more months off work post-surgery. Following the introduction of Versius, many patients are returning home in 1-2 days post-surgery and experiencing a quicker return to normal activities, with the majority off work for between two to four weeks. Access to Versius has been a complete game changer for the women we serve, and we are now delivering far more minimally invasive care as a result, which enables us to either reduce the cost burden of our interventions or offers further capacity to cope with demand.”
Colorectal surgery also saw improvements in MAS provision, with 93% of procedures now performed with Versius, far ahead of the National Bowel Cancer Audit (NBOCA) recommendation that 50% of patients are offered MAS.
Barrie Keeler, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, Milton Keynes University Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust explained: “We didn’t need to change much to accommodate Versius – it allows us to approach our operations with a laparoscopic mindset.”
Jennifer Kearney, Associate Director of Operations, Milton Keynes University Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust commented: “We see a growing need to expand the use of Versius at MKUH, to scale some of the benefits we have already observed by developing the robotic program, and to offer a more standardised surgical practice. If Versius was implemented across the NHS as we have, there are big efficiency and quality gains to be made.”
In addition to improvement in patient recovery timelines, MKUH surgical specialists reported improvements in the ergonomics and comfort of surgical teams, as well as a reduction in physical and cognitive stress. With staff retention a key focus of the NHS People Plan in the UK,iii a recent survey from CMR reported that around 20% of surgeons in the UK and the US think they may need to retire early due to the physical impact of conducting laparoscopic surgery.iv
Nidhi Singh, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Milton Keynes University Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust reported: “I have known quite a few surgeon colleagues needing to take time off work with wrist and shoulder issues resulting from manual surgical techniques, and I believe Versius will help me to avoid these types of work-related injuries and extend my working career over time.”
Professor Joe Harrison, Chief Executive, Milton Keynes University Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust echoed the importance of introducing new technologies to improve surgeons’ quality of work life: “For our surgeons too, this technology is transformative. Not only are we giving them access to the best tech that science can offer, we are also helping to prolong their careers by introducing a solution which reduces the physical strain on their bodies. If improving the health and wellbeing of our staff wasn’t enough, the return on investment we see by retaining the best staff for longer was reason enough to work with CMR.”
Mark Slack, Chief Medical Officer of CMR Surgical commented: “Our goal when introducing Versius into a hospital setting is to provide valuable support to surgical staff at a time when healthcare systems are facing significant health and economic challenges. It has been a privilege to work with MKUH and we are delighted to see that Versius is helping to bring the benefits of MAS to more patients and that the team see scalable benefits and value across multiple specialities.”
Versius is now an established, valuable surgical tool across the NHS where it is being used in multiple hospitals across the UK, in addition to leading private and public healthcare systems across the world.
To download the Milton Keynes Versius Case Study, please click here.
i NHS England – QMCO data collection – https://www.england.nhs. uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/cancelled-elective-operations/ cancelled-ops-data/
ii Milton Keynes University Hospital: Versius® Robotic Assisted Surgery Case Study February 2022
iii The NHS People Plan 2020/21 – https://www.england.nhs.uk/ournhspeople/
iv Feeling the strain: The physical and mental impact of performing surgery – https://cmrsurgical.com/feeling-the-strain-report
Source: CMR Surgical.