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Hospital charity’s surgical robot appeal reaches £1.5m target

Thousands more patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital will benefit from the advantages of robotic surgery thanks to the support of local people who’ve helped raised £1.5 million to buy the hospital a new robot.

The Robot Appeal was launched by the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) just 18 months ago and donors and fundraisers stepped up to the challenge in many ways including:

  • taking part in the Dragon Boat festival,
  • running the London Marathon
  • taking a penalty kick challenge
  • walking up a flight of stairs ten times a day for 100 days
  • learning Welsh for 1000 minutes.
  • responding to our mailing.

ACT Chief Executive, Shelly Thake, said: “We are bowled over by the impressive efforts of our fundraisers and the generosity of our donors in helping us to reach our target; a massive thank you to everyone who has supported this important appeal. A special thank you must go to the ALBORADA Trust who have yet again donated so substantially to one of our appeals.

“Many more people undergoing surgery will now benefit from a reduced risk of complications and infection, less pain and scarring, and will be able to get back home to their loved ones much sooner. In short, you’ve helped to make your hospital even better.”

It can take months to recover from traditional, ‘open’ surgery, however, following robot-assisted surgery, patients can be discharged from hospital within a matter of days, rather than weeks.

Cambridge University Hospitals Medical Director, Dr Ashley Shaw, said: “We are hugely grateful to the generosity of donors and the support of Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust in enabling us to bring the benefits of robotic surgery to our patients in Cambridge.

“This gift will enable many patients to undergo a range of major surgical procedures with fewer complications and faster recovery.”

Director of The ALBORADA Trust, Jeremy Richardson, said: “We are delighted to be part of this tremendous community effort to support ACT in helping to improve the lives of patients at Addenbrooke’s by enabling the hospital’s amazing staff to make even greater use of state-of-the-art technology. We are committed to making a real difference with the support we give; this project will do just that.”

Now that the funds have been raised, the hospital will start the procurement process to purchase the new robot. If anyone still has funds to donate to the appeal, they can still do so as their money could help towards ongoing costs such as training for staff who will be using the robot. To find out more, visit:

Next generation scanner could greatly improve the life chances of many patients

23 February 2022

An amazing next generation scanner – the 3D ‘Cone Beam’ CT scanner – has now been installed at Addenbrooke’s and seen its first patient. The scanner is part of a wider surgical planning service that helps improve outcomes for patients and has been funded by charitable donations.

The innovative new service will help:

  • Cut the duration of surgical procedures by up to 60%
  • Reduce average waiting times for surgery by many weeks
  • Reduce the need for patients to travel to other hospitals
  • Provide even greater accuracy for planning of complex facial surgery.

This is the first time the technology is being used at Addenbrooke’s, and the hospital will also be the first in the East of England to offer in-house digital 3D surgical planning that could greatly improve the life chances of many patients.

It could not only dramatically cut surgery times and transform the lives of some patients with head and neck cancer, but also assist those with facial trauma, dental problems and children born with cleft lip and palate.

The 3D surgical scanner– known as the ‘Cone Beam CT’, because of the precise cone or funnel it creates around the affected area – was funded by The ALBORADA Trust.

Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust’s (ACT) CEO Shelly Thake said: “We’d like to thank The ALBORADA Trust for making this service possible and everyone else who donated. It will make a huge difference to so many head and neck cancer patients needing surgery at Addenbrooke’s. For some, the use of this cutting-edge technology could mean the difference between life and death.”

Jeremy Richardson, Director of The ALBORADA Trust said: “Having previously supported several 3D imaging projects at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, The ALBORADA Trust were pleased to provide funding for the ‘Cone Beam’ CT scanner, reducing surgery times by up to 60% for some patients and sparing the need for patients to travel to other hospitals for treatment. We really wanted to help dramatically cut surgery times and transform the lives of patients.”

Every day, 33 people in the UK are diagnosed with head and neck cancer. For those battling this devastating disease, surgery usually offers the best chance of survival. This type of surgery is incredibly complex and can require patients to be under general anaesthetic for nine hours or more. This brings a number of associated risks, which for some patients means surgery is not an option. The sheer length of these procedures also significantly limits the number of patients that can be treated, and this delay could mean the difference between life and death.

However, this new, highly precise scanner – combined with specialist modelling software and a 3D printer – will allow clinicians to plan complex surgery like never before, meaning operating times could be dramatically reduced.

To read more about the impact a 3D scanner could have in treating patients please visit to read Colin’s story.

Regional ambulance service for young launched

(Cambridge University Hospitals press release)

A new ambulance service which will travel thousands of miles a year transporting the region’s sickest babies and children from hospital to the nearest specialist intensive care unit was launched today (Wednesday 7 April).

The Acute Neonatal Transport Service (ANTS), which for many years transported pre-term mums and new-borns, now becomes the Paediatric and Neonatal Decision and Support Retrieval service (PaNDR).

The name change highlights that the service, based at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, now transports seriously ill children right up to 16 years across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

The aim is to ease pressure between 11.30am and 9.30pm seven days a week on the current paediatric transport provider, London’s Children’s Acute Transport Service (CATS), which will continue to assist outside those hours and full-time in the rest of the region.

To make the changes possible PaNDR has invested in a new ambulance and driver, from St John. Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) raised £216,000 to fund the brand new children’s ambulance service, with help from the Chariots of Fire relay race in September 2019 which raised £92,897.

Specialist equipment purchased includes a defibrillator, monitors, pumps, oxygen and ventilators attached to a size adjustable trolley-bed where young patients of all heights and weight can be cared for by a dedicated paediatric consultant and nurse with backgrounds in intensive care.

The existing three neonatal ambulances, all of which have been funded with generous donations to ACT, operate right across the East of England, are equipped with similar life-saving equipment which is mounted under an incubator on wheels.

From today the new ambulance will feature the PaNDR name and panda logo and staff will be dressed in dark blue uniforms with gold trim. Livery on the remaining three will be updated as the ambulances are replaced. The ambulances regularly transfer patients to Addenbrooke’s as it has the region’s largest neonatal intensive care unit and only paediatric intensive care unit. This service will also repatriate patients to their local hospitals, once well enough.

Deputy medical director and PaNDR service lead, Dr Sue Broster, said: “This is an excellent example of three ambulance services – PaNDR, St John and CATS – working together to give patients in this region the very best service possible.

“We also want to extend out thanks to ACT, which has been a constant and loyal supporter throughout the history of ANTS and again now it has made this important transition to PaNDR.”

ACT CEO, Shelly Thake, added: “We are delighted to be able to support the new children’s ambulance service and would like to thank all those members of the public who have been so generous with their donations.”

Anyone who wants to make a donation to ACT should visit

The new PaNDR website can be visited at