Menu Picture of three small lines that users click on to reveal a list of links

More from news and media Picture of three small lines which when clicked on activate a menu with links to other pages

Celebrating a milestone for robotic surgery at West Herts

Posted: 10 February 2023

Picture of surgical team with Dean Russell and robots;

Pictured above: Surgical teams celebrate the
100th robotically assisted surgery with MP for
Watford Dean Russell (third left).

Surgical teams and theatre staff at West Herts Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have now performed one hundred robotically assisted surgeries - bringing faster and less painful recovery for patients - just seven months after acquiring two state-of-the-art robotic systems.

MP for Watford Dean Russell visited Watford General Hospital on 8 February to meet and congratulate staff across surgical specialties. He saw a demonstration of the robots in action and had an opportunity to try the controls.

The driving force and vision behind the robotic programme at West Herts is consultant colorectal surgeon Mr Vanash Patel. He said: “There are no other trusts in the UK that have reached 100 cases so quickly using this kind of robotic system. This is a fantastic achievement for the trust and great for patients too.”

West Herts was the first NHS trust in the country to install two robots to assist with surgical operations. Created by CMR Surgical, the robots made their debut in July 2022 and are now being used to perform surgery across a range of specialities including colorectal and upper gastrointestinal surgery, urology and gynaecology.

Robotic-assisted surgery brings major benefits to patients including reduced post-operative pain and a faster recovery which can lead to earlier discharge from hospital by up to a day in many cases.

Enny Cruz, who has endometriosis*, had a robotically assisted operation performed jointly by Mr Patel and Mr Arvind Mittal, consultant gynaecologist, in January to detach her ovaries, uterus and part of her intestine which had become ‘glued’ together. The operation took three hours and she was discharged less than a day later.

She said: “I experienced a much faster recovery and if I had to have another operation, I would definitely want it to be done robotically.”

Surgeons and theatre staff have enjoyed access to game changing equipment thanks to the robotic programme at West Herts and this has helped them acquire valuable specialist skills. As a result, this is attracting highly skilled staff to the trust, eager to specialise in this area.

Mr Patel said: “We’ve now been able to competitively recruit to hard-to-fill posts based on a desire from surgeons to operate robotically.”

All surgeons and their teams go through a comprehensive training course before carrying out robotic-assisted surgery with patients. This includes practising using a Versius trainer simulator, e-learning modules, as well as face-to-face mentoring in the operating room.

Mr Patel said: “As a teaching hospital, having two surgical robots means we can accelerate our staff training programme, giving surgeons who join the robotics programme access to state-of-the-art technology to train when needed, while ensuring a robot is always available in the operating room.”

Just six months after the robots were installed in 2022, 10 surgeons were trained and working on clinical cases including a fully robotically trained colorectal team of five surgeons. “Everyone is very motivated,” said Mr Patel. “Members of the wider surgical team, such as nurses, want to develop their skills and retrain into new robotic nurse assistant roles to allow themselves a higher involvement in the programme.”

Theatres manager Jo Laker said: “The trust made a big financial commitment buying the robots and we are now reaping the rewards. This is not only great for our patients but also demonstrates to the public how advanced we are and enhances our status as a teaching trust.”

The two robot systems are working concurrently on a high volume of cases across multiple surgical specialties most days of the week, meaning more patients can benefit from robotic-assisted surgery.

Mr Patel said: “It’s a great testament to the teams. None of this would have been possible without buy in from everyone, especially the trust board who have remained incredibly enthusiastic and supportive of the robotics programme which has spurred us on to make the programme a real success.”

The next milestone for the programme is to reach 400 cases by the end of the year. “We would like to train more surgeons, train the surgical trainees and ultimately become a robotic centre of excellence,” said Mr Patel.


*endometriosis is a long term condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places like the ovaries or fallopian tubes.

  1. Short video (1 min 11 seconds) of robotic-assisted surgery and interview with Mr Vanash Patel, consultant colorectal surgeon, can be viewed here. Additional stills are also available. Please contact the communications team as below. Copyright for all images: West Herts Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
  2. The robots have a modular configuration, with four mechanical arms and a surgical instrument attached to each arm, controlled by a surgeon at a computer console near the operating table. The console gives the surgeon a magnified high-definition, 3D view, so they can perform complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control than conventional techniques.
  3. The robot technology gives real-time metrics, in-depth case statistics, feedback on the surgeon’s performance, and other insights aimed at driving improvement. This data has the potential to help standardise surgery and improve patient outcomes.
    For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: For out of hours media enquiries please call the Watford General Hospital switchboard on 01923 244366 and ask for the on call communications manager.
  4. West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust has a catchment area of over 500,000 people and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,000 staff and volunteers.
  5. For more information about our hospitals, visit You can also join our followers on Twitter ( and find us on Facebook (