Health Secretary Andrew Lansley in Colchester to open The ICENI Centre

Published: 2 March 2011 at 15:04

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will visit Colchester tomorrow (Thurs 3 March) to open a state-of-the-art training and research and development centre for laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.

The £2m ICENI Centre is the only facility of its kind in the UK and is a joint venture between Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust and Anglia Ruskin University.

Purpose-built and located next to the Postgraduate Medical Centre at Colchester General Hospital, it will help to address the huge shortage of laparoscopic and minimally invasive surgeons in the UK and abroad.

Surgeons will go there from all over the world to be trained. In addition, the centre’s conference-link facilities, which connect it to hospitals and universities around the globe, will be used to help deliver distance-learning courses, enabling surgeons  to benefit from the expertise available at The ICENI Centre but without having the need to come to England.

Mr Lansley will unveil a plaque and will also be invited to use the equipment in the centre’s skills laboratory and mock operating theatre, where surgeons can practise skills such as suturing and carry out virtual operations, like bile duct repairs, colorectal surgery and cholecystectomies (gall balder removal).

In addition, he and guests in The ICENI Centre’s lecture theatre will use its conference-link facilities to watch Colchester consultant surgeon Mr Don Menzies carry out live laparoscopic surgery at Colchester General Hospital.

Laparoscopic surgery offers many advantages over traditional “open” surgery. It involves small incisions rather than large cuts so there is less post-operative wound pain, bleeding, and risk of infection. Patients spend less time in hospital and are able to return to normal activities sooner.

Mr Lansley will be welcomed to The ICENI Centre by Sally Irvine, Chair of Colchester Hospital Trust, which runs Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital, and Professor Michael Thorne, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University.

Professor Thorne said:

“The ICENI Centre will provide a unique facility for all health staff across the county involved in or potentially interested in laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery and the patient benefits this brings. 

“It will foster world-class laparoscopic research, development and training. This is a huge step forward, building on Colchester hospital's excellence to ensure that Essex becomes widely known as an international laparoscopic research and development hub across a wide range of medical specialties.”

Mrs Irvine said:

“Colchester General Hospital helped to pioneer the use of keyhole surgery in the UK and has built up an international reputation for its work – both in the operating theatre and in training other laparoscopic surgeons."

“Minimally-invasive surgery has many benefits for patients and it results in greater efficiency because it reduces the amount of time they spend in hospital and, therefore, the cost of hospital stays, freeing up beds for other patients.”

The first laparoscopic course in Colchester was in 1992 and courses are held for surgeons and theatre staff. Surgeons come to Colchester for training from all over the UK as well as Europe and the Middle East.

Although The ICENI Centre is being officially opened on Thursday, the first course there – advanced laparoscopic colorectal surgery – was held on 17/18 January and other courses have already taken place at the two-storey facility. It is expected to host about 35 courses in 2011.

In September, it will host the sixth annual congress of the International Society of Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgeons, the only meeting in the world devoted solely to laparoscopic colorectal surgery, which will be attended by delegates from Australia, Hong Kong and the USA, as well as Europe.

Laparoscopic experts from all over the UK, as well as Colchester’s own laparoscopic surgeons, will teach there. One of the Colchester surgeons, Mr Tan Arulampalam, has led the development of a masters programme.

Colchester General Hospital has the highest concentration of advanced laparoscopic surgeons in the UK and performs more procedures across more disciplines than any other hospital. For example, it is a designated centre of excellence for laparoscopic colorectal (bowel) surgery and laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis. It performs the highest percentage of colorectal procedures.

It has 22 consultants who operate laparoscopically – eight consultant gastrointestinal (GI) surgeons, eight consultant obstetrician and gynaecologists, four consultant urologists and two consultant vascular surgeons.

The Trust’s laparoscopic team is led by Professor Roger Motson, who has been a consultant at Colchester General Hospital since 1984. In 2001 he became a Professor of Surgery at Anglia Ruskin University in recognition of his national and international reputation in laparoscopic surgery.

The Trust is also a partner in the Postgraduate Medical Institute (PMI) at Anglia Ruskin University.