Hospital ward

Royal Surrey NHS FT welcome new cleaning robot

Royal Surrey NHS FT have adopted a new cleaning robot to clean large floor areas. The trust is one of the first in the UK to utilise this technology. One of the huge benefits of this is that it uses 70% less water with fewer chemicals than traditional cleaning methods.

During their first UK cleaning robot trial just over a year ago, they found that the robot improved quality, and consistency of cleaning. Feedback from staff and patients has also been positive.

They have named the robot Ella who also has the ability to sing ‘Happy Birthday’, tell a joke, rap, or have a chat.

Gareth Donaldson, Medirest’s Contract Director, said: “This is the future and it’s all about releasing time to care for staff. Ella is making a huge difference to repetitive cleaning work, covering large areas of the trust. The use of robotic cleaners is vital to help free up staff to focus on what’s important.

“Thanks to Ella, our team of cleaners have more time to concentrate on the critical ‘touch point’ hot spot areas for infection transmission, such as handrails, door handles, lifts and doors to wards. This is vitally important, especially during a pandemic.”

Ella the robot

The robot is programmed with a GPS plan of the hospital and set areas to clean, and is placed at the start point on each level of the site to start her cleaning cycles. When Ella has completed her programmed circuit, she returns to the base to clean herself and prepare for her next job.

Some of the robot’s design also includes smart safety features. Other benefits also include the use of a clever scrub and dry system, where no water trail is left, in contrast to conventional cleaning machines which are known to leave residue. It means that there is no need to use wet floor warning signs that restrict space on corridors. 

There are also alert systems built into the robot, which helps her detect people approaching from behind and in front. This allows her to come to a halt if beds or trolleys need to be avoided.

Mr Donaldson said: “We’ve now invested in 12 cleaning robots among the trusts we work with, in partnership with cleaning specialist Killis. But we went live with robotics at Royal Surrey first out of all our UK trusts because it’s seen as a centre of excellence and ideal ground for testing innovation and new projects.

Staff from the cleaning team also ‘supervise’ Ella to monitor her progress and make sure she doesn’t get stuck in corners.

Jacqui Tingle, Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the trust, said: “Ella is a valuable and welcome addition to support our Medirest housekeeping team who all work incredibly hard to keep the trust spotlessly clean and safe for patients and staff.

“We always aim for extremely high standards of cleanliness at all times and robotic technology is an important element in continually achieving this across a large site.”

Medirest are the cleaning contractors responsible for looking after cleaning, waste, portering, catering and more at the trust.

NHE March/April 2024

NHE March/April 2024

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