Southmead Hospital inks partnership with Bristol Robotics Laboratory

The organisations will look at how technologies including socially assistive robots could improve patient care.
By Leontina Postelnicu

Patients at Southmead Hospital in England could soon see robots help them recover after surgery in a new partnership between the North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

The organisations have announced that they will be working together to explore the potential of healthcare technologies in further improving patient outcomes and hospital experience.

NBT said socially assistive robots, for instance, could provide patients undergoing surgical procedures with personalised guidance, while robots connected to smart sensing systems could help patients recover at home.

But the hospital is already ahead of the curve, having introduced robots for dispensing pharmacy medicines, analysing blood samples and others.


From staff shortages to ageing populations, it is clear that pressures on healthcare are only going to increase in the future. Technology, however, could help alleviate some of these concerns.

“Robots can help us do some of the more mundane, repeatable tasks and free up staff to do what they do best – listening, thinking and caring,” said Tim Whittlestone, clinical director for anaesthesia, surgery, critical care and renal at NBT.

“They can also analyse data, helping us to really personalise treatment, care and recovery. There are constant developments so we need work out how patients and staff interact with the technology and whether it’s useful.”

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory, which is said to be the largest robotics lab of its kind in the UK, is a partnership between the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol.


Southmead is not the only hospital ramping up efforts to use technology and provide better care for its patients.

Over in Scotland, back in December, the Golden Jubilee Hospital introduced a new robot to assist doctors with knee replacement surgery. At the same organisation, over the past 18 months, specialists have reportedly carried out over 150 robotic lung surgery operations, helping patients get back on their feet faster.  


“Southmead is one of the UK’s pioneering hospitals in its approach to technology, with robots already in use to transport supplies and support more efficient surgical procedures,” said Praminda Caleb-Solly, professor of assistive robotics and intelligent health technologies at the University of the West of England.

“This partnership will build on that impressive work. By bringing together the university’s research expertise and the hospital’s clinical expertise we can create a leading centre for healthcare technology,” Professor Caleb-Solly added.