‘VIRTUAL nurses’ will soon be doing their rounds at Blackburn and Burnley hospitals.

The East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) has decided to install moving and talking hologram images of real nurses in the entrances, as a way of reminding patients, staff and visitors to clean their hands as part of a crackdown on infections such as MRSA.

The hologram will be produced by reflecting high definition video projectors on to a specially developed material to give a clear image.

The nurse’s lips will be synched into the words he or she is saying, and they can be changed to relay different information.

Duncan Gavan, director of Infection, Prevention & Control (DIPC) for the Trust, said: “The virtual nurses will be attached to gel dispensers, so it’s a case of ‘you can’t pass go’ without using some gel.

“The nurses can give direct messages, and the message can change from week to week.

“Often you can walk past information without noticing it, but if the message changes, you don’t become accustomed.

“We hope to have two of them, one in Blackburn and one in Burnley, and if it’s successful, we can roll it out to more locations.”

He added: “The company have got the order.

“Now we need to find out if anybody in the trust wants to be the nurse. They would be videoed reading the script.”

The ‘virtual nurses’ have been trialled at the University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust.

Initial results showed that the number of visitors using sanitiser placed at the entrance to the hospital increased from 2.1 per cent to 33 per cent when the virtual nurse was switched on.

It is hoped that sponsors can be found for some of the virtual nurse messages as an income stream.