First patients undergo robotic assisted surgery in Wales under innovative national programme

State-of-the-art surgical robots are now helping to treat colorectal and gynaecological cancer patients in Wales as part of the new National Robotic Assisted Surgery Programme.

The National Robotic Assisted Surgery Programme was introduced by the Welsh Government to improve outcomes for cancer patients by increasing the number of patients across Wales who have access to less-invasive, minimal access surgery (MAS). MAS offers well-recognised benefits to the patients, when compared to open surgery, including reduced pain, scarring and recovery time.  

CMR Surgical’s Versius robot enables surgeons to perform complex procedures precisely and accurately, with the surgeon operating four robotic arms from an independent, open console.  

During the summer, surgeons at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board began operating on Colorectal patients using the Versius robot.  


One of those patients was Timothy Simms, 78, a retired lawyer from Cardiff. Mr Simms, who underwent the procedure to have a polyp from his sigmoid colon removed, at the University Hospital of Wales, said: “For me it was more desirable than normal surgery. Mr Horwood explained what was involved, he was clear and concise and it sounded more attractive than the conventional surgery. I had no worries when it came to having the surgery everything had been explained to me and everything went exactly as it was supposed to. My greatest anxiety was the recovery time as at my age I can’t afford to lose any time but this type of surgery is a quicker recovery so that was another plus. It’s early days but I’m very happy with how everything went.” 


Carys Hughes, from Mynytho on the Llŷn Peninsula, was one of the first patients to undergo a bilateral removal of both ovaries using the robot.  She said: “It was quite exciting to be one of the first patients to be part of a ground breaking new service in North Wales! I felt very at ease as the procedure was explained to me very well. I felt comfortable about the procedure as there are many benefits of using the robot due to it being minimally invasive and it also promises a faster recovery. I would like to thank the team at Ysbyty Gwynedd for the care they have provided me and I’m very pleased to see we now have this technology available for patients in our area.” 


Professor Jared Torkington, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, said: “We are hugely excited about the start of the unique networked robotic programme in Wales, designed to improve the quality of surgery, attract and retain staff and work with the public in highlighting the importance of early presentation and existing screening programme in bowel and other cancers.”  

Earlier this month, the first robotic cases were carried out within Gynaecology at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. Prior to the first cases taking place, the theatre team took part in extensive training to develop the core robotic skills needed to use the system.


Consultant Gynaecological Oncologists Mr Richard Peevor and Miss Ros Jones were the first surgeons to use the robot. Mr Peevor said: “We are proud to become the first surgical discipline to use robotics to treat our patients in North Wales. We will be offering this kind of surgery to women needing hysterectomies for gynaecological cancer. Robotic-surgery has many advantages compared to open surgery; benefits include less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery. Here in Ysbyty Gwynedd we are the Gynaecological Cancer Surgical Centre for North Wales so having the robot available to us will really strengthen the service we already have in place for our patients.”


Towards the end of 2022, robotic surgery will be offered to selected Urological cancer patients at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Cardiff and Vale Health Board will be rolling out the service within Gynaecology.  

CMR has supported the implementation of the programme through extensive onsite support and training, and will continue to support the programme through a collaborative partnership with NHS Wales, Welsh Government, Life Sciences Hub Wales and Moondance Cancer Initiative.  


Ana Raduc, General Manager, UK and Ireland at CMR Surgical, said: “At CMR, we are hugely excited to be a part of this pioneering strategy, and welcome the leadership that Wales has shown in adopting an innovative approach that will deliver real benefits for the NHS, surgeons and most importantly, patients across Wales, by harnessing the power of Versius. We hope this programme will demonstrate the merits of a country-wide RAS public health programme as health systems worldwide face rising pressures and growing backlogs of elective care. Wales has led the way, and we encourage a further discussion and best practice sharing on the merits of a national surgical robotics programme with other UK nations.”