At last good news on NHS:

TV series “Hospital” had a positive message

Non-invasive surgery could transform healthcare

The BBC documentary series ‘Hospital’ was about the current challenges faced by the NHS. Amongst the truthful but depressing news, viewers might have missed a snippet on what the Neurology department at Imperial College is up to.

Selwyn Lucas, a 52-year old painter and decorator from St Austell in Cornwall was one of the patients featured in the programme. He bravely allowed the cameras to film him and his problems;  he is right handed and developed tremors, which unfortunately impacted on his job as a painter and decorator.  Over the last 15 – 20 years he has been forced to learn to paint with his left hand.

The programme filmed him undergoing pioneering non-invasive surgery, which is being hailed as the future of healthcare. Instead of all the preparation for a full-scale operation, we were shown the simplicity of the procedure, using INSIGHTEC’s focused ultrasound treatment.  We saw how the team treating him were able to cure his essential tremor using ultrasound waves, as an alternative to brain surgery.  All very low-key, fairly simple in comparison with normal surgery, and I should imagine much more comfortable for the patient.

‘No Brainer’

According to Prof Dipanker Nandi, Consultant Neurosurgeon at Imperial College London “this much smarter way to use resources, [surgery] can become a day care procedure so people could actually have their treatment and walk out and go home the same day. Given the full package I would say this is almost a no-brainer for the NHS.”

AlternateOn using focused ultrasound as a new form of brain surgery “In the future we’ll look forward to using this for deep-seated tumours, where currently traditional surgery is fraught with risks.”

“The risks here are much reduced and the good thing is that this is just the beginning.”


Another member of the team is Dr Peter Bain, Consultant Neurologist at Imperial College London comments: 

“One of the great things is that it take this form of surgery away from a major operating theatre and into a scanning unit. And if course that would allow, in principle,  many more people to be treated and treated more effectively, without so much disruption or a long wait for surgery.”

So let’s hope the team are given the backing and funding to go ahead and offer this type of treatment.  Think what it will save the NHS in beds and nursing care alone, if patients can go home on the day.


On a practical note, it really would seem a no-brainer for the NHS number crunchers.  Running costs for an operating theatre average approximately £1,200 per hour, but the average cost per MRI examination is £36.  An examination can last between 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the size of the area being scanned and the number of images being taken. You have to factor in the costs of the whole team, but even so it must save considerably on costs, plus being more acceptaible for patients. Let’s hope this is the start.




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