Surgeons at Barts Health NHS Trust have started using a robot to perform operations on patients, including those who would perhaps be too frail to undergo traditional surgery.

The Da Vinci Robot will be used by seven departments across the two hospitals, including Gynae-oncology, urology, colorectal, hepatobiliary, transplant and head and neck surgery.

It has been designed to offer much more intricate procedures, with tiny incisions made rather than one large cut.

Da Vinci is controlled by a surgeon using their hand and feet and a console that is situated next to the patient. The robot’s arms use surgical instruments to perform the operation and another member of the surgical team observes the procedure next to the patient, ensuring it’s going ahead as planned.

“Unfortunately some people are too frail for open surgery so, for example, in some cancer cases our only choice would previously have been radiotherapy which isn’t as effective as surgery,” Da Vinci’s inventor Kelvin Lau said.

“The Da Vinci suddenly expands the number of people able to have surgery, as well as proving particularly effective in those who have tumours in places that are difficult to reach.”

He added the benefits of using Da Vinci rather than a surgeon manually undertaking the procedure include less blood loss, less pain, faster recovery and faster patient discharge, which will, in turn, save the NHS money as well as providing higher levels of patient satisfaction.

It will be used for more than 500 patients a year between now and 2020 and has already performed a number of operations including a lung cyst removal on one 68-year-old in November.