A STATE-of-the-art surgical robot will soon be performing operations on patients at Poole Hospital.

The 'da Vinci robot system', which carries out laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery to help treat a wide range of conditions, has been funded through a £3.5 million donation from Sunseeker founder Robert Braithwaite, after he was impressed with his care at the hospital earlier this year.

Controlled by a surgeon from a console, the robot is the first of its type in the UK and will treat its first patients later this year.

Colorectal surgeon Tas Qureshi said: "This incredible gesture will directly benefit a significant number of patients every year, and allow us to provide the latest surgical treatment for cancer on a par with the best cancer centres in the world.

"The introduction of the robot will mean surgical instruments with a greater range of movement and allow easier access to areas difficult to reach with traditional keyhole surgery.

"Coupled with the high definition, three dimensional views, the result is much greater precision during surgery and therefore better targeting and removal of cancers."

He said the robot, which will initially be used to treat rectal cancer before moving on to gynaecological and head and neck cancers, and later non-cancerous conditions such as endometriosis, would lead to a reduction in the need for patients to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

"We intend to ensure this platform is made available to other surgeons across the county by developing a Dorset-wide training programme that will ensure that surgeons working in our hospitals continue to be among the most skilled in the country," he added.

Entrepreneur and marine engineer Mr Braithwaite said his gift was motivated by his gratitude to the "Dorset community" and its support for Poole-based luxury powerboat firm Sunseeker.

"It is a pleasure for me to be able to give back to the community where I can," he said.

"Following successful treatment at Poole Hospital for an illness this year I was able to learn from my surgeon, Tas Qureshi, how advances in technology are really making treatments more successful.

"In particular the da Vinci robot system has been heralded as game-changing in the most sophisticated medical centres around the world.

"I understand that its versatility will be able to help many and make Poole Hospital a centre of excellence."