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Monday, May 21, 2007

Mental Nurse

I’ve checked and double checked, but no: it’s not April 1st. This really is a plan to introduce “robot nurses” into hospitals (Charing Cross Hospital apparently already has one). According to Lord Hunt – who is a HEALTH MINISTER, by the way – the removal of human interaction and communication from the drugs distribution process “will reduce errors and free up staff time”.
Give me fucking strength. How can a man that believes this bullshit is needed by our overstretched NHS system (full as it is of woefully underpaid staff and plagued by MRSA outbreaks and cleaning crises) actually be in charge of making ministerial decisions?
I wouldn’t let the bloke buy me a plaster.

‘ROBOT nurses could be bustling around hospital wards in as little as three years. The mechanised "angels" - being developed by EU-funded scientists - will perform basic tasks such as mopping up spillages, taking messages and guiding visitors to hospital beds. They could also be used to distribute medicines and even monitor the temperature of patients remotely with laser thermometers.
Lord Hunt, the health minister, said: "These robots will reduce errors and free up staff time which can be better spent caring directly for patients. We would like to see more of this kind of innovation in helping to transform patient care."


Anonymous said...

A completely absurd idea, however, if a robot nurse was to look after me I would want it to look like the robot from the SMASH advert, complete with demonic laugh!

Jo said...

What about Metal Mickey? Or is that the same thing?

Actually, I'd quite like a Dalek nurse. Or that funky K9 dog thing.

I'm warming to the idea all of a sudden....

Nick said...

I am horrified!

Robots running around a hospital?!

Of course robots have been commonplace for such a long time now and as we all have at least three in the house doing various tasks the cost is so low and reliability is so high that its well within the budgets of even the most financially crippled hospitals.

Who I wonder is going to be maintaining these robots? A fleet of on-site engineers?

Anonymous said...

The budgetary constraints aren't really my first concern, to be honest. As anyone who has been in hospital will know, it is in those moments of human interaction that any potential problems (which a robot simply does not have the emotional capacity to detect) are often spotted. A robot might take a perfectly normal temperature from a patient, but a nurse would be able to spot the abnormal abdominal swelling, or the slight skin discolouration, or any other of 100 different things that a robotic temperature-taker wouldn't even be looking for.

Where people's health is concerned, very little is actually "routine", so asking a machine that cannot identify anomalies or, god forbid, actually employ their own human instinct in decision making to do "routine" jobs is not an idea that I'm terribly keen on. Sometimes nurses just KNOW when something isn't right with a patient, (even if they're just passing by their beds to hand out paracetamol) in the same way that members of the patient's family might just "know" something isn't as it should be.

Robots might well be able to count out pills quicker than a human can, but can it answer the questions of a confused elderly patient who can't quite read the label properly? Does it know how to talk to patients to reassure them, using language they will understand?

Robots might be efficient, but they can't use instinct in patient treatment and as anyone who has spent time in hospital knows, the instincts of your carers can make the difference between life and death.