TUF's ground-breaking project to make UK home of Robotic Training

As part of our commitment to be at the forefront of innovation and good practice, TUF has funded a new, unique project aimed at training many more urologists in the NHS in robotic surgery. With five high volume centres based in four different cities; London, Bristol, Newcastle and Canterbury, these surgeons will be able to train in the UK and deliver improved care to the many people who need urology surgery now and in the future.

Three of the surgeons connected with the project, Mr Muhammad Shamim Khan, Professor Prokar Dasgupta and Mr Kamran Ahmed of Guy’s Hospital & Kings College London explain why it is so exciting.

Shamim: Robotic Surgery has emerged as an exciting surgical approach particularly in the field of urology. TUF has been at the forefront of providing support to the surgeons wishing to be trained in Robot Assisted Surgery over last few years. As there were not enough expertise and centres undertaking this in UK, the sponsored candidates had to travel abroad to be trained.  This new initiative of Robotic Surgical training following a structured training curriculum will allow surgeons to be trained in various sub-specialisms of urology within the UK.

Kamran: The faculty is what is special about this. TUF has enabled a sharing of knowledge that we have not yet seen in this context and that’s what I think is unique to this particular project. The training centres being around the country is important too as it means we get a spread of the talent around England.  Normally things can end up getting focussed in one particular location which is great if you live near there but not so great if you’re elsewhere in the country. Now we may be able to say to the public that there’s probably going to be a surgeon near you who has had the opportunity to study these techniques.

Shamim: The faculty and centres have been selected based on their track record in delivering high quality care to patients reflected in reported surgical outcomes, expertise of the individual surgeons in various sub-specialist areas and track record in providing training to fellows or senior registrars interested in acquiring robotic surgical skills.  Training of more surgeons in robot assisted surgery will allow patients from various parts of the country to derive the benefits offered by this new technology including less blood loss, shorter hospital stay and quicker recovery.

Prokar: In the future it should lead to even more patients being treated in this way and they benefit because the surgery will probably be better for them. On top of the benefits Shamim mentioned, issues such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction can be reduced through robotic surgery because of greater nerve sparing and accuracy over what we can see.

Shamim: It is likely that competition in the industry will allow more surgical systems to come into the market driving down the cost of technology. This will allow many more patients to have access to the technology and hence increase the demand for training of more surgeons. However, with current TUF initiative it is expected that more surgeons would have been trained who could then transfer their skills to their contemporaries and future generation of surgeons.

Kamran: I think for a long time people associated robotic surgery with private care; like the NHS didn’t have it or couldn’t have it. Well maybe this will change with more surgeons having access to the training and hopefully locations close to people where they can be treated in this way. 

Prokar: I’m not actually sure whether any kind of project like this has been done outside of urology. That’s the advantage of TUF as a charity having that overview; when you have a cohort of people who have been trained in a particular way I think there’s a desire to share the knowledge that they have obtained and pass it on to others. Collaboration is very important and something that all the different areas are trying to get better at.

Kamran: You know you’ve got to have the idea before you can do projects like this! With this initiative we will see more “home-grown” surgeons trained, definitely. That’s why we’re grateful to TUF for the funding as it’s really going to help this internal development to grow.  These centres have the potential to expand into the future as well; what is being done now – depending on its success of course – can be moved around. There’s nothing stopping the project from going from strength to strength.


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