Health Secretary Andrew Lansley officially opens ICENI Centre

Published: 4 March 2011 at 13:34

Anglia Ruskin and Colchester General Hospital launch new keyhole surgery facility

The ICENI Centre, a joint venture between Anglia Ruskin University and Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, was officially opened by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley on 3 March.

The £2m ICENI Centre has been purpose built to serve as a state-of-the-art training and research and development centre for laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery and is located next to the Postgraduate Medical Centre at Colchester General Hospital.

The only facility of its kind in the UK, 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 unveiled a plaque and was also 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 used 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 was welcomed to The ICENI Centre by Professor Michael Thorne, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, and Sally Irvine, Chair of Colchester Hospital Trust, which runs Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital.

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.”

Although The ICENI Centre was officially opened on March 3, 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 US, 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.

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.