The NHS is to commission robot-assisted surgery using the Da Vinci robot for kidney cancer patients, meaning around 10,000 kidney cancer patients a year could have their tumours removed by a robot. Clinical commissioners were persuaded by extensive evidence from the British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) showing better outcomes for those operated on with the robot, and a reduction in the ‘almost unbearable pain’ suffered by many patients during recovery.

Until now the £2 million, multi-armed Da Vinci robot has only been licensed for prostate surgery. The decision is a turnaround for NHS England, which planned to decommission the robotic procedure as it costs hundreds of pounds more than conventional surgery because it uses disposable instruments.

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