NHIP Lightning Talk: The Digital Surgeon

19/10/2021 12:00 pm to 19/10/2021 12:30 pm

Event Details


Each year 10 million patients undergo a surgical procedure in the UK. Surgery accounts for £12 billion (10%) of the NHS budget and a similar amount is spent on dealing with adverse surgical outcomes. The latter will undoubtedly increase as our ageing population comes to require surgical interventions. Older people suffer from multiple medical conditions (multi-morbidity), including frailty, which explains why one third of all deaths in the UK occur in patients within 90 days of surgery. This is the challenge we need to address.

Our goal is to create a digital surgical pathway, of which a core component is a Health Data Research Hub in surgery: Cutting Edge. Currently being developed in collaboration with Health Data Research UK (HDRUK).


Cutting Edge will create a trusted research environment, enabling improved outcomes and productivity. Creating digital surgical twins will magnify these gains by exploiting longitudinal patient’s data. This will include data curated from robotics and the application of AI to create personalised surgical plans. This will identify and mitigate increased risk of post-surgical complications: sepsis, stroke, cardiovascular events and blood clots. The multi-source data will be transform surgery by:

  • improving outcomes and reducing NHS expenditure
  • transforming future workforce training in surgical and non -technical skills.

It will create widespread benefits across a range of stakeholders:

Patients: reduced complications and better outcomes.The NHS: reduced surgical infections, hospital stays and in turn waiting time.

Researchers and clinicians: streamline the process of accessing data for surgical trials, leading to more research and innovation.

Life sciences and healthcare companies: through the National Innovation Centre for Data, we will provide companies with an opportunity to use their skills and expertise to co-develop innovative new solutions in partnership with the NHS.



Professor Naeem Soomro, RCS (Eng) is Co-Director in Robotic and Digital Surgery: Developing and implementing strategy of wider adoption of robotic and digital surgery across the UK.

He is Director of Robotic Surgery with the Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS foundation Trust, leading the biggest robotic surgery programme in the UK with three Da Vinci and one Mako system. Threre are twenty-five surgeons delivering robotic surgery across eight surgical specialities, >35000 operation performed.

Professor Soomro is executive director of the Newcastle Surgical Training Centre, delivering 300 minimally invasive and robotic surgical training course each year.

Paul Watson is Professor of Computer Science at Newcastle University and Director of Newcastle Data. He is a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and PI of both the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cloud Computing for Big Data, and the £30M National Innovation Centre for Data. Previously, he directed the £12M RCUK-funded Digital Economy Hub on Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy which focussed on using advanced computing technologies to transform the lives of older people and those with disabilities.

After completing a PhD on parallel computing in 1986 he became a Lecturer at Manchester University, before moving to industry (ICL High Performance Systems) to help turn a research prototype into a product. In August 1995 he moved to Newcastle University, where he has led a range of research projects in scalable data science. He sits on the board of Dynamo North East, an industry-led organisation created to grow the IT economy of the region. Professor Watson is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, and a Chartered Engineer. He received the 2014 Microsoft Jim Gray eScience Award.


Newcastle Health Innovation Partners

This event is hosted by Newcastle Health Innovation Partners, one of eight Academic Health Science Centres in the UK, bringing together world-class research, education and clinical practice for the benefits of the region.

Visit our website www.healthinnovation.org

Follow us on twitter @NHIPartners