On Tuesday 25th January members of Middlesbrough Erimus Rotary welcomed David Chadwick, Consultant Urological Surgeon at South Tees NHS FT, with a cheque for over fifteen hundred pounds toward the hospital’s Cutting Edge Fund. In response the group were given a detailed update on recent developments in robotic surgery and allied treatments. The hospital’s first Da Vinci surgical robot was delivered in 2014 and has proved transformative in the treatment of a range of surgical procedures ranging from prostate, bladder, kidney colorectal and thoracic operations; more recently head and neck surgeries have been much less radical thanks to the robotic facility. Since 2020 two more advanced robots have been introduced and in the near future JCUH will become only the second centre in the UK to perform cardiac surgery using robotic tools.

David spoke of the advances in radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer at the hospital where highly trained and skilled staff have been able to significantly reduce the risks of side effects. Stereotactic radiotherapy uses precise directional beams has made it possible to reduce treatments from 20 daily doses to just 5 weekly applications and this is particularly helpful for those travelling long distances to our regional centre. Ironically the onset of Covid whilst greatly reducing visits for chemotherapy has encouraged and speeded up the introduction of alternative treatments which are now becoming the norm. This includes novel forms of hormonal therapy which are less toxic than chemotherapy. Included amongst these advancing technologies are the use of genetic-based treatments where what are termed PARP inhibitors have the potential to significantly improve the prognosis for advanced prostate cancer patients. The diagnosis of prostate cancer now incorporates an MRI scan as a first investigation. This non-invasive test means that 40% of patients referred with possible prostate cancer can avoid the need for a biopsy.

The effects of Covid on the hospital completed David’s overview and we discovered that in the first ‘Alpha’ phase pre vaccination hospital in patient numbers peaked at 150 with a significant number requiring Critical Care. During the second or ‘Delta’ stage at JCUH the maximum number of in-patients was 250 with a higher proportion requiring critical care treatment. The third Omicron phase has peaked at 150 inpatients with only a small minority of cases requiring high level care. Whilst this is as a result of a milder form of the illness together with high levels of vaccination in the community there remains significant pressure on all health services including James Cook. The hospital continues to face significant challenges created by Covid because of absence of staff at all levels. Whilst James Cook continues to lead the way with innovative new treatments there remains a huge backlog which will take a long time to overcome.

Amongst questions was a very sincere expression of thanks from one of the members for whom David’s diagnostic skill and treatment had been life transforming. A very heartfelt round of applause completed an evening where we were reminded how fortunate we are to have this first class Hospital so close to our homes.

Picture shows David presenting.

‘Rotary is a worldwide organisation but is also local to Teesside. Middlesbrough Erimus Rotary is active in its support of the community through Education,Environmental,Health and Welfare projects.


David Chadwick presenting


Muster records


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