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What my patients have said ...

Dear Mr Tailor... I just wanted to write to you with very grateful thanks for your expertise, help and kindness in my recent surgery and stay in St Peters.... One hears much about the NHS and its shortcomings in the media, but, ... I have had an extremely positive time, with good care and attention, and have only praise for all that happened during my stay.... So thank you again for your major part in that, and a big thank you to your secretary, Helen Riddell, who has been lovely over the phone!

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One of the main reasons for the slow uptake of robotic surgery in the UK is the enormous cost of acquiring the da Vinci Robot, which currently stands at about £1.7 million. Furthermore, there are annual servicing costs of £100,000 per year. Additionally, for each surgical case, the costs for the disposable instruments used are high.

Very few private hospitals in the UK have acquired the da Vinci Robot. Hence, robotic surgery is mostly offered privately where the NHS facility has a private wing or an adjacent private hospital. Patients are therefore admitted into the private wing or hospital and operated on in an NHS theatre facility rented out to the private hospital during times when it is not being used on NHS patients.

This is currently the arrangement which I use at Royal Surrey County NHS Foundation Trust.  The robot is owned by the NHS Trust, but time is made available for private patients.

If you would like to have your private gynaecological surgery done robotically, there are certain important considerations related to funding.  Currently robotic surgery is not routinely authorised by all Private Medical Insurers.

Therefore, in summary, if you are planning to have a robotic procedure privately:

  • Check with your insurer that they fund the use of a robot for your surgical procedure.
  • If you are insured with someone who does not approve robotic procedures, you could ask them whether they would allow you to have a robotic procedure funded at the conventional laparoscopy rates, and you can then fund the ‘robot surcharge’ that arises from the additional costs to the NHS hospital for using the robot and the surgeon and anaesthetists additional skills and time in theatre.
  • If you are insured with someone who approves robotic procedures but only at conventional laparoscopy rates, then you could fund the extra surcharge as above.
  • If you are not insured at all but would like a private robotic hysterectomy then a price can be negotiated for your individual needs. This is likely to be in the ballpark of approximately £12,000.

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