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Grampians Health installs state-of-the-art surgical robot in Ballarat   

From L-R – David Tippett (patient), Juliana Addison, Lisa Butcher (patient), Joy Taylor, Doug Paxton and Carolyn Vasey

22 February 2023

Grampians Health has installed a state-of-the-art surgical robot at its Ballarat campus, a move that will allow patients to reduce their stay in hospital following surgeries while enabling surgeons to perform highly complex procedures.

More common in private hospitals, the installation of the surgical robot at Grampians Health brings the number of robots in Victorian public hospitals to four, joining Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Barwon Health and The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Following a demonstration of the technology at Grampians Health on Monday, member for Wendouree Juliana Addison said the community deserved the best quality health care.

“Thanks to the Andrews Labor Government, patients of Grampians Health will greatly benefit from a $6.5 million investment in robot-assisted surgery that will deliver improved surgery outcomes and reduce recovery time,” she said.

The use of robotic technology enables surgeons to operate in difficult to access areas with minimally invasive small incisions. These surgical procedures using robotic technology can also reduce hospital stays and lead to quicker recovery times for patients, given the incisions are smaller.

“Surgical robots allow surgeons to control four arms (instead of the usual two) with ‘wristed’ instruments that allow us a range of movement beyond the human wrist, with stable 3D, zoom-able vision. Robotic technology allows us to do more complex cases through smaller cuts, with high definition vision beyond what has previously been possible,” said Carolyn Vasey, Colorectal Surgeon and Medical Lead for Robotic Surgery, Grampians Health.

Currently, the surgical robot can be used for surgeries in disciplines such as colorectal, urology, upper gastrointestinal, hernia, and thoracic surgery, as well as gynaecology oncology.

The introduction of robotic surgery is expected to help Grampians Health attract more skilled surgeons to the service.

“This new technology will help us attract skilled surgeons to practise in the region and offer great opportunities to trainees,” said Matthew Hadfield, Chief Medical Officer, Grampians Health.

“With the robotic technology available in very few public hospitals, the patients benefit from state-of-the-art technology at no costs. This builds on our goal to provide equitable healthcare to all.”

All patients within Grampians Health’s referral network will benefit from the availability of new technology in Ballarat.

Surgeons wanting to use the robotic technology at Grampians Health are required to undergo significant training on a simulator before they are qualified to perform the surgeries on patients.

Currently, the hospital has three fully trained surgeons. By June, the health service aims to have eight surgeons who will be ready to use the technology to perform surgeries.