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Robot nurses: sent to destroy?

Beyond the Bedpan isn’t sure what to make of the new breed of hospital robots that have recently appeared in the news. Are they a wonderful tool that will make nurses’ lives easier … or death on wheels?

Back in April, Beyond the Bedpan was tickled by an April fools’ story on Nursingtimes.net that joked about community nurses being replaced with a Facebook app.

Well, that’s the last time we joke about these things. It seems that “management” were reading with interest and have taken our ideas on board.

And what did they come up with? ROBOT NURSES. That’s right, you heard us, robots.

The brand new hospital in Stirlingshire has bought the robots in the hope that they’ll do day-to-day jobs like carrying dirty washing and delivering cups of tea.  

Have they never seen Terminator? Is it only a matter of time before evil cyborgs are sent from the future to kill all humans (including, one presumes, nurses)? Where will this madness end?!?

OK, so we’ve calmed down now. Beyond the Bedpan does sometimes like to make conclusions first and look at the details later. In this case, it would seem that the new robot is less Sonny from I, Robot and more, erm, Cupboard from Ikea.

So maybe they aren’t such a bad idea after all? If, as a spokesperson from the hospital claims, they won’t be replacing humans, just freeing up more time for staff to spend with patients, then isn’t that a good thing? Or is it just another way to cut jobs and save money? Do nurses have a reason to feel threatened by these machines? Or are they just another tool to help us work more efficiently?

You never know, if we’re lucky we might be able to train these walking tables to make us a morning brew. Fingers crossed.

Readers' comments (9)

  • Nurses are needed. Nurses can deliver a cupa and realze that the patient is in distress....not breathing and do something about it. A robot will deliver the tea.

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  • I went on a study tour to the USA six years ago and saw robots in action - they were great. They also had finger-print recognition for dispensing drugs and by the time the RN had got to the bedside with the drug it was already documented on the patients PC next to their bed! We need to embrace new ways of working, I look forward to seeing these robots in action in England too.

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  • Absolutely spot on Dennis Emerson, Nursing is more than dispensing prescribed tabs, writing up a patient's process at the end of a shift or task orientated fetching and carrying. It is a profession demanding amongst many othe talents, observational and communication skills and the common sense to spot at a glance and realise a patient's condition is deteriorating. Can robots spot this? I think not.

    Robots can and are programmed to build motor cars quite efficiently to a very high standard but I would start to panic a little if I saw Staff Nurse R2D2 rolling towards me waving a syringe and asking me my name and date of birth.

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  • Can a robot smile at a patient who is scared of being in hospital, can they reassure relatives. Where do people get these ideas from

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  • NHS Nursing Student

    What next.

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  • I can see robots taking off here in a big way - you don't have to pay them a wage, they don't have families (so wont need christmas day off, carers or parental leave), they don't have bladders (so never need toilet breaks) and they don't need to eat or drink!.

    So what if they can't reassure frightened patients, dont recognize that the patient they are giving a cup of tea to actually died half an hour ago, that the prescription they are dispensing has been changed and the warfarin should not be given due to the patients INR of 12.
    .............Its all going to work REALLY well - especially as they won't have to get pensions, will never retire, can work 24/7 and won't answer back!

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  • hmmm.. they can programme robots/computers to do anything these days.
    Robots produce less carbondioxide, better for the environment and will help with the deficit.
    If the consumers are happy then go for it!

    still i would be a better patient if i think my carer is able to show empathy/sympathy.

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  • When I first heard about these robots, I wasn't concerned that they'd replace nurses, more that by using them to transport drugs, linen, meals etc., they'd reduce/cut out the need for porters, therefore potentially laying off a lot of already low-paid staff.

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  • Maybe we could jailbreak them to replace doctors too? :D

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