Mary Wooldridge MP

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Four surgical robots for our public hospitals

Sunday, September 02, 2018

A Liberal Nationals Government will significantly expand access for public patients to cutting-edge robotic surgery with the purchase of 4 new Robots, which will help save lives and speed up recovery times.

Robots allow surgeons to perform complex surgery through keyhole incisions, which is often less invasive, limits complications and reduces a patient’s recovery time when compared to conventional open surgery. 

For example, traditional prostate surgery may take up to 10 days recovery in hospital and up to six to eight weeks after discharge before a patient can resume their routine.  With robotic surgery, most patients are discharged within a few days and back into their normal routines with a couple of weeks.

As a result, the use of surgical robots also benefits the public hospital and other patients by increasing the availability of beds because patients recover quicker and spend less time in hospital compared to more traditional surgery.   

Many surgical professions now use robots for procedures in urology, gynaecology, ENT, thoracic surgery, colon surgery, gastro intestinal surgery, heart surgery and kidney transplantation.

This $20 million investment will:

·       enable the purchase and operation of the four new public robots located at Austin and Mercy Health, Monash Health, Western Health and Bendigo Health;

·       support other public health services to access the new robots or proximate private robots for their patients, such as the arrangement that has been in place between Barwon Health and Geelong Private; and

·       establish a Robotic Surgery Outcomes Registry to ensure quality outcomes through ongoing monitoring and assessment.

The first da Vinci surgical system in Victoria was installed at Epworth Richmond in 2003, and although now widely available in private hospitals there are very few public hospitals which have a robot. In Victoria there are 11 robots in private hospitals but only two, at Peter Mac and Royal Melbourne, in public hospitals.  A successful arrangement whereby Barwon Health contracted robot access from Healthscope’s Geelong Private will conclude soon following that hospital’s closure.

In the United States there are 2,703 da Vinci surgical systems roughly 1 per 120,000 people, in Victoria that figure sits closer to one for every 470,000.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Health, Mary Wooldridge:

“This investment will ensure that all Victorians can access cutting-edge robotic surgery, not just those who have private health insurance.

“Investing in surgical robots in our public hospitals will help save lives, reduce complications and improve recoveries as well as freeing up hospital beds for others.

A Liberal Nationals Government will be focused on making sure Victoria has a truly world class healthcare system.

Under Daniel Andrews patients are experiencing longer waiting times for elective surgery which is why our plan for more surgical robots, which will help free up beds and reduce waiting times, is so important.”

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