Southend Hospital has officially unveiled its new £1million space-age operating theatre following a three-year fundraising appeal.

The new Colin George Laparoscopic Theatre is the first in the UK to include near infra-red imaging technology supplied by Southend medical technology firm Olympus.

It is named after the late Colin George, a dedicated fundraiser who spearheaded the Keyhole Cancer Appeal which was backed by the Echo.

The appeal raised £500,000 for purchase of the theatre’s new equipment which features 2D and 3D imaging equipment

Dave Gillett, senior product manager for systems integration at Olympus, unveiled the theatre to a host of fundraisers and dignitaries on Tuesday. He said: “By installing a new theatre with the latest technology, the hospital is able to offer the very best environment for their clinical team, providing significant benefits such as improved theatre efficiency and patient outcome..”

Mike Dworkin, consultant surgeon at the hospital, said: “So far we have used the theatre for cancer, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s, diverticular operations and radical prostate surgery.

“Many of these patients would have previously had to have ‘open surgery’ which would have meant longer hospital stays and recovery times, and greater post-operative pain and scarring.

“The great news for patients is we have now got faster set up times for surgery and quicker change over between cases and have the equipment to carry out on table colonoscopy, which will make cancer surgery more accurate.’”

Mr Dworkin added: “We can now bring digital x-rays and body scans to the screens and record operations for education purposes, dramatically enhancing the teaching process for training our own staff or using the two-way video conferencing to beam operations and training to hospitals or conferences across the world.

“All of which will continue to grow and enhance the reputation of Southend Hospital and its staff, not just nationally but internationally.’

Clare Panniker, chief executive of Southend Hospital, said: “I would like to say thank you to Southend Hospital Charitable Foundation and the supporters of the Keyhole Cancer Appeal for helping us to build this wonderful theatre.

“I know I speak on behalf of the surgical team when I say how delighted we are to be able to deliver first class patient care, using the very latest technology and in the best possible surroundings.”

Olympus staff went on site in July 2017 to oversee the theatre’s complete refurbishment from start to finish.