Geelong Private Hospital enters public-private surgical robotic agreement

A cutting edge surgical robot is providing public urology patients faster recovery times, thanks to a new partnership between Barwon Health and Geelong Private Hospital.

University Hospital Geelong Director of Urological Surgery Richard Grills operated Geelong Private Hospital’s $4 million da Vinci surgical robot on Monday, using console controls to perform a four-hour prostate removal.

Mr Grills said the robotic surgical device’s four arms each controlled different instruments and enabled more precise surgery with minimal access, which is particularly useful for urological procedures.

“This device enables a significantly greater degree of surgical precision than the human hand,” he said.

“It’s a much less complicated experience for the patient compared to a traditional open urological surgery. It allows patients to return to work after two or three weeks instead of six weeks, and discharge from hospital within two days.

“Post-operative pain is significantly less and there is less risk of infection and blood transfusion.”

Mr Grills said Geelong urologists wanted to ensure there was equity of access for robotic surgery.

“Although robotic surgery is well-established in private hospitals, for public hospitals the cost of the technology is pretty challenging,” he said.

“We’re very happy to have formed a partnership with Geelong Private Hospital and Healthscope to enable public patients to access this service. For Geelong patients, it doesn’t matter whether you have private insurance or not - you can still have your prostate surgery performed robotically in Geelong.”

It is estimated at least 30 public patients will undertake their surgery at Geelong Private Hospital this year as part of the private-public partnership, which will schedule dedicated weekly surgical blocks with the da Vinci robot.

Geelong Private Hospital General Manager Janine Haigh said the partnership came from the shared objective of providing all eligible urology patients in the Greater Geelong area equal access to the surgical technology.

“Our partnership with Barwon Health will ensure many more patients in our local area will be able to benefit,” she said.

“This is a win-win situation for us all and has certainly set a new benchmark in private-public partnerships for Geelong.”