NHS helper bot trialled in Milton Keynes

A new NHS helper bot is being trialled at Milton Keynes University Hospital as part of a partnership with British AI company Academy of Robotics to relieve pressure on staff. 

The penguin-shaped robot, given the name Milton by staff, first began learning to navigate the hospital in November last year and this year will begin trials to deliver medicines to hospital staff.

Chief Executive at MKUH, Professor Joe Harrison, said: ‘Across the hospital, our Pharmacy team does an incredible job to ensure that our patients receive the medication they need to return home in a timely manner. We are working with the Academy of Robotics team to introduce new technology that can work alongside our existing workforce to facilitate faster delivery and take some of the pressure off our teams. 

‘This trial is an opportunity to test the safety and efficacy of this technology and we will continue to work closely with all teams involved to understand how it can be most effectively utilised in the future.’ 

MKUH’s partnership with the tech company began in early 2022 and will be used to explore how the technology could be scaled up across the hospital and possible the NHS as a whole. 

The hospital says that ‘Milton’ would be used to support the in-patient pharmacy staff by alleviating the time spent bringing medication to different wards on some of the longest routes in the building. 

Staff from across the hospital were involved in the design of the helper bot and engaged in workshops and ‘online engagements’ before selecting the final look used by Academy of Robotics. 

Before taking on the NHS trial, the company was best-known for being one of the first to bring self-driving vehicles to UK roads with the autonomous ‘Kar-go’ and has previously developed technology to support organisations across the public sector. 

Founder and CEO William Sachiti said: ‘These Helper Bots are there to try and make life that little bit easier for both hospital staff and patients: to be there when needed and out of the way when they are not. 

‘It is our hope that this technology will offer a positive experience for all and we’ll continue to test and improve both the technology and experience it creates as we scale up the programme.’ 

The use of technology to aid and train healthcare workers was also recently highlighted by nearby Aston University which recently received a grant to expand the state of the art healthcare simulation facilities for students.

Photo: Milton Keynes University Hospital


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