First bowel cancer surgery day case takes place at NNUH

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has become the first in the UK and amongst the first in Europe to carry out a robotic-assisted bowel cancer surgery as a day case.

State-of-the-art robotic surgery and innovative follow-up care from the Virtual Ward will enable certain patients to recover at home within 23 hours of admission to NNUH.

The project aims to improve patient experience and recovery time whilst reducing pressure on hospital beds by using the latest surgical innovations and health monitoring technology.

NNUH became the first hospital in the region to carry out bowel cancer surgeries using robotic-assisted technology five years ago. The Sir Thomas Browne Academic Colorectal Unit now has three Consultants who carry out robotic-assisted surgery to remove bowel cancer. Two years ago, two new Da Vinci robots were installed at NNUH, thanks to a £1m donation from the N&N Hospitals Charity, to enable more patients to receive minimally invasive surgery and improve recovery times.

NNUH is the first in the UK to carry out a day-case robotic high anterior resection of the rectum for colorectal cancer. The national average length of stay for patients with this surgery is seven days.

Andrew Rice, 56, from Coltishall, was admitted on 1 November for robotic-assisted surgery to remove a section of his bowel and returned home 23 hours later.

His blood pressure, temperature and pulse were monitored 24/7 for the next four days through the NNUH Virtual Ward where he received regular calls from the clinical team.

Mr Rice said he had no concerns about leaving hospital so soon after major surgery.

“It has been brilliant, and I cannot fault the service. Being looked after by the Virtual Ward is definitely better than being in hospital. They rang me several times a day and the arm band monitored me 24/7 at home – the technology is easy to use. Every team I have seen have been superb.”

“I feel fine, and the scars have healed well. I only had to take paracetamol after the surgery and did not need stronger pain killers. I’m awaiting to find out the next steps with further treatment and chemotherapy.”

Mr Rice’s cancer was detected following a routine bowel cancer screening appointment and confirmed following a colonoscopy in October.

Mr Ahmed EL Hadi, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at NNUH, said: “We are excited to have established a robotic colorectal day-case programme, which is a massive accomplishment combining two excellent innovations – robotic surgery and the Virtual Ward.”

“This may not be suitable for all patients, but the minimally-invasive surgery and use of remote monitoring by our clinicians means that we can safely discharge patients earlier after colorectal surgery and reduce length of stay in hospital. They get better sleep at home, home-cooked food and have their family and pets around them to aid their recovery.”

More than 90% of people with bowel cancer have one of the following combinations of symptoms:

  • a persistent change in bowel habit
  • blood in the poo without other symptoms of piles (haemorrhoids)
  • abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss

For more information about the bowel cancer screening programme, visit

To find out more about the N&N Hospitals Charity or to make a donation please visit