A pair of robots that kept the floors of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust clean during the Covid-19 pandemic have been named by children being treated at the trust. 

The robots allowed cleaners to carry out vital touch point cleaning during the pandemic which meant the trust could keep their sites sanitary.

Eight-year-old Mabel Baillieux picked the name Penny for the robot which works at Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

Mabel is a regular patient on the ward and is currently under the care of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust receiving treatment for leukaemia.

She said: “I was really pleased to be asked to name the robot Penny.

“Her jokes are quite bad but that’s what makes her funny. I think the other children will like seeing her too when she visits the ward.”

Four-year-old Caleb Holden, who has cerebral palsy and is being cared for by the trust’s paediatric team, chose the name Matilda for the second robot who works at Maidstone Hospital.

Sarah Gray, assistant general manage for facilities at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, was responsible for bringing in the robots which not only help clean the floors but can also inform people they are in their way, tell jokes and sing nursery rhymes.

Sarah added: “On a more serious note, the robots have been brought in to support our cleaners. They currently spend a lot of time mopping large floor spaces in the main reception areas and the corridors of both hospitals on a regular basis during the winter months, but the robots will help to free them up so they can carry out vital touch point cleaning around the two sites which is essential during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As the robots use 70% less water than other floor machinery it means the floors will dry quicker, making them safer for patients, visitors, staff and guests. They’re also programmed to stop if people or objects get in their way.

“The robots will work in the main corridors at night time. They will also be visible in the main entrances and corridors throughout the winter months cleaning the floor areas.

“The names chosen by the children will be placed on the front of each of the robots so visitors and patients can see what they are called when they are out and about and hard at work.”

This is not the first time robots have been recruited as hospital employees – back in 2018, Digital Health News reported on Northwick Park Hospital discovery it used to employ Jeeves the Robot in the 1990s. Jeeves was responsible for carrying blood samples and medical notes around the hospital but he sadly did not pass his six-month probation.