Taking place at London Excel, Future Surgery 2022 provided a showcase for innovation – including the latest in virtual reality simulation, demonstrations of pioneering surgical robots, revolutionary smart surgery glasses, state-of-the-art theatre imaging systems, and AI systems aimed at improving efficiency and surgical outcomes.
Attracting thousands of surgeons, anaesthetists, perioperative practitioners, and surgical trainees, Future Surgery 2022 offered hands-on opportunities for training in surgical techniques, as well as viewing live demonstrations at the Association for British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) Surgical Simulation Theatre.
Headlining the first day was Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, who gave an insight into the key factors set to influence surgery in the future. He pointed out that the last 170 years have seen the “most transformation for human health in history”.
“There have been significant improvements in the medical risks that can lead to surgical problems, particularly around cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, and there have been reductions in some of the drivers for cancer that require surgery – including HPV, Hep B/C, smoking and air pollution,” Prof. Whitty pointed out. However, he added that we can expect significant ‘headwinds’ in the form of obesity, the ‘backwash’ from COVID – which is going to be with us for a long time – as well as multimorbidity.
There have been some positive trends, however. Cardiovascular disease has improved steadily – with a 73% reduction in mortality between 1975-2018. As a risk factor for people going into surgery, there has been a general downward trajectory for cardiovascular disease. COVID has been disruptive in operational terms, but it is also still having a big impact on excess mortality, with patients presenting with cancers at a later stage. This will have an impact on treatment and mortality for some years, he warned.
Also high on the agenda at Future Surgery 2022 was the backlog for elective surgery. With this in mind, the event brought together a panel of experts to discuss the way forward and the hurdles that will need to be overcome.
Chairing the debate, RCS president, Neil Mortensen, was joined by: Stella Vig, National Clinical Director for Elective Care; Dawn Stott, chief executive of the Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP); Duncan Summerton, consultant urological surgeon, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust; Rowan Parks, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; and John Skinner, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust.
Stella Vig pointed out that significant progress has been made in reducing the longest waits (of 18 months and two years), but emphasised that reducing the wait in children’s surgery is particularly important. Stella Vig commented that “what got us through COVID was leadership”, but we need to look after our teams.
The panel agreed that workforce shortages and low morale are significant issues, and Dawn Stott emphasised the importance of showing 'kindness' as part of efforts to ensure retention of staff. She highlighted the value of sharing and spreading best practice, as well as learning from COVID. “We need to do things more strategically,” she continued.
John Skinner highlighted the problems around Winter pressures and the impact on the recovery of the backlog: “Elective orthopaedic surgery relieves pain, which keeps people moving and restores function. The best way we can deliver this is in hubs. We need to separate urgent and acute care from elective care,” he commented.
Visitors to the ABHI Surgical Simulation Theatre were also able to watch a wide array of cutting-edge demonstrations courtesy of some of the UK’s leading clinics and hospitals, including Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, Moorfields Private Eye Hospital London, the London Osteotomy Centre, The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and Orthopaedic Specialists.
The state-of-the-art theatre featured demonstrations of new and pioneering technologies, including Proximie – a novel technology platform that allows clinicians to virtually ‘scrub in’ to any operating room or cath lab from anywhere in the world. Proximie’s technology enabled the live broadcast of joint preservation surgery, from the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT) theatres – performed by renowned consultant orthopaedic & specialist knee surgeon, Mr Raghbir Singh Khakha.
A high tibial osteotomy is a minimally invasive procedure that realigns the knee joint. For some patients with knee arthritis – a condition marked by progressive decline – the surgery can delay or prevent the need for a partial or total knee replacement by preserving damaged joint tissue.
Other key topics at Future Surgery included: human factors, sustainability, surgical training, robotics and many more...
The Clinical Services Journal will be featuring in depth coverage of the event in the next editions.