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Robots can make surgery quicker, cheaper and safer. So why aren't they in every operating theatre? Basic technological development is still required, an understandably conservative medical profession has to be 'won over', and healthcare planners must be convinced of the financial benefits. Perhaps the best hope for the medical robotics business is the increasing role of market forces within healthcare systems. In an increasingly competitive healthcare sector, robots could offer hospitals a way of attracting potential patients. Last, but not least, patients must be convinced that they'll be safe in a robot's care.