SHEPTON Mallet's Practice Plus Group Hospital is now able to perform a less-invasive technique of emergency hernia surgery.

For the first time, patients at the Somerset hospital can benefit from laparoscopic surgery, which involves a surgeon making small incisions around the hernia.

Through one incision, a laparoscope, which is a instrument with a tiny camera on the end, is inserted to help guide the surgeon.

66-year-old Philip Roger, a retired retail manager, is the first patient to have received laparoscopic hernia treatment at the hospital.

Due to the long NHS waiting times, his GP suggested he seek private consultation to treat his hernia, having had three in his lifetime.

Philip, from Taunton, had booked a once in a lifetime summer holiday with his wife, Carol, to Antigua and Brazil. He knew he had to get the hernia sorted before then.

Philip said: “Travelling with my hernia was not an option.

“The hernia pain had become unbearable, and I couldn’t imagine being on holiday in such agony and was worried about running into complications abroad.

"It was my doctor that suggested I go private as he confirmed it was not an emergency, and I’d need to wait over a year for surgery.

"I decided to bite the bullet and book a consultation to get the hernia sorted once and for all.

"I couldn’t even cook without having to hold on to the worktops with the shooting pains.

“I was in and out in a day.

“I can honestly say everything went so smoothly – the team were amazing and put me at ease. I am recovering quickly, as just three weeks in you’d never know I’d recently had an operation."

Consultant at the Practice Plus Group Hospital in Shepton Mallet, Mark Tomlinson, said: “Hernias are all too common and one of the most frequently performed surgeries in the UK.

"Unfortunately, as treating them is often deemed non-essential – unless they become strangulated or run into complications – waiting times on the NHS can be very long as more serious operations taking priority.”

“At this time of the year, it can be a growing concern for people like Philip on waiting lists, in pain and wanting to go on holiday with an existing health condition.

"They’re worried about going away when they’re in limbo, potentially needing to seek medical help abroad and not knowing how much it might cost."