A DORSET hospital has been chosen as one of just five training sites for a new operating technique for rectal cancer patients.

Dorset County Hospital (DCH) announced it has been chosen as a site for pilot training of Transanal Total Mesorectal Excision (TaTME), a different approach to an existing operation using a laparoscopic, or 'keyhole', technique to operate on patients.

The technique has been used by pioneering surgeons since 2010, with the aim of reducing the length of the surgery and potentially improving cancer survival rates.

Under a new training program organised by the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland (ACPGBI), these surgeons are now training others in the technique.

The ACPGBI, the body which governs colorectal surgery, is keen that the introduction of this procedure is carefully planned and that surgeons should are well trained, to ensure the best possible results for patients. It requested applications from hospitals that wanted to be pilot training sites.

Of the 29 hospitals which expressed an interest, five were successful, including DCH.

The application comprised submission of evidence on the surgical experience of the team and managerial support for the programme, and two unedited videos of laparoscopic (keyhole) low anterior resection operations, performed by Mr Anjay Talwar and Mr Paul Ng, consultant laparoscopic general and colorectal surgeons at the hospital. The videos were scrutinised by a panel of experts, who then graded the quality of the surgery.

Mr Talwar said: "We are very proud that the ACPGBI have recognised the excellent work we are already performing at the hospital in relation to rectal cancer operations, and we are excited to be bringing this pioneering procedure to our patients.

“The team has already attended a two day ‘skills lab’ training session, and under the pilot training programme we will have clinical mentorship throughout the initial cases and will submit data on our clinical results to the ACPGBI.”

The hospital has thanked Friends of Dorset County Hospital who have recognised the importance of this programme and donated more than £27,000 to fund two pieces of equipment that experts regard as essential to this form of surgery.