01st June 2016 Written by Skills for Health

Image: Shaun O’Donoghue.To celebrate International Children’s Day on June 1st, Skills for Health have launched a weeklong celebration to honour our children’s health heroes, giving everyone a chance to say ‘thank you’ to those who work in paediatric care.

A whole new world

If you take the lift to the lower ground floor of the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, you’ll find a hidden hub of activity. Here lies the diligent facilities department where scores of staff like hospital porter, Shaun O’Donoghue, are busy keeping the hospital on track behind the scenes.

You’ll see linen room staff preparing uniforms, mail room workers sorting the post, domestic supervisors scheduling cleaning rotas, porters transporting patients from ward to ward and robots travelling to their next drop off, yes robots.


Along with new buildings, Alder Hey found new innovative ideas to adapt to new ways of working and the arrival of six automated guided vehicles (AGV’s), which whizz linen and deliveries to wards and departments. The robots also deposit clean bins before collecting waste bins helping staff to concentrate on other areas.

The robots are controlled via a computer programme and do not require staff to accompany them, but they do need people to maintain the programme, one of which is Shaun O’Donoghue.

Meet Shaun...

Shaun is responsible for watching over the robots. He said, “I monitor the system to make sure the robots have a clear pathway across their hospital route. Sometimes they’ll need ‘rescuing’ when they get stuck due to obstructions like a cardboard box in the wrong place or a bin lid open. The robots are fitted with sensors and won’t pass unless it’s safe to do so. Importantly, they also stop if they are approached by people.

“If there’s a problem highlighted on the system, I’ll go to where the robots are stationary and check through what the fault could be. They’re clever devices though and think they’re doing a good job.

For the last seven years, Shaun has been a key member of the portering team. His role involves everything from transporting patients from ward to ward, moving oxygen cylinders and other equipment to different medical teams, distributing items from deliveries and helping to ensure pharmacy supplies arrive to the wards safely and securely.

He said of his role, “Although there’s often a routine to some of our tasks as a hospital porter, we get to meet so many people across the wards and other hospital areas. There’s fantastic camaraderie which makes it a great team to be a part of.”

Shaun is one of hundreds of health heroes that work behind the scenes in children’s hospitals across the UK.

During our Paediatrics Week and International Children’s Day celebrations we will be honouring these healthcare support workers and the vital roles they play in our children’s paediatric care.

To get involved or just to find out what we have been up to you can follow the updates here: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/ourhealthheroes

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