Posted on March 7, 2017 by staff

‘Tech won’t save the NHS on its own’


A cutting-edge surgeon has said the health sector is risk averse towards technology.

Shahid Islam is a consultant urological surgeon and clinical director for urology at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Mr Islam was responsible for introducing the £1.3 million Da Vinci robot to operating theatres in Blackburn.

The machine reduces the average stay following keyhole surgery down from six to 3.2 days. The surgeon graphically described to BusinessCloud what his team does.

“I’m a urologist,” he said. “We like putting scopes up people’s wotsits and we do about 2,660 procedures a year.

“Six instruments [we use] go through proper decontamination, and each of those instruments costs about £16,000. They’re extremely fragile.

“So there’s a constant turnover. There’s a new system that came online using one scope that cost £7,000, and uses a replaceable sheath.

“So what we are getting is a quick flow, less amount of money spent, and less damage to the scopes – we’re saving money there as well.

“The roadblock is when infection control comes in: You may perforate the sheath. We went back to the company, and they’ve sold five million sheaths around the world.

“If you put in the effort you can perforate anything. So that’s the challenge we’re talking about – that’s the psyche of the NHS inherently ‘it can’t be done’.

“When you argue your case with proper scientific evidence then one has to say ‘yes, it is time to change’.

“But tech won’t save the NHS on its own. It is the mindset that will change the NHS.”