Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/17/nhs_keyboard_cleaning/

NHS orders mass keyboard clean-up

Germ-resistant covers ordered

By James Sherwood

Posted in Hardware, 17th June 2008 09:28 GMT

If you’ve read the reports about the average office keyboard being dirtier than a toilet seat, you may want to take a leaf out of the NHS’ book. The healthcare body has ordered thousands of specialist germ-resistant keyboards.

According to a report by the Press Association, the keyboards are completely flat and covered with a hypoallergenic coating that it’s claimed repells bacteria. An LED built into each keyboard also flashes when it's due for a rub-down and the light only stops flashing once sensors are satisfied that the keyboard’s been well cleaned with alcohol wipes.

Traditional keyboards can harbour lots of nasty germs, partly because they are rarely cleaned and becuase so many office workers eat lunch at their desks. Just try tipping your keyboard upside down now. Of course, returning to your desk without washing your hands after a vist to the lav won't help matters either.

The NHS hopes the keyboard order, which is thought to be for 7500 keyboards at a cost of over £1m in total, will help cut infection rates and reduce instances of superbugs, like MRSA.

Dr Peter Wilson, a University College London Hospital consultant microbiologist and co-inventor of the cleaner keyboard, told the PA that in tests the keyboards were shown to have a positive impact on keyboard cleanliness.

The NHS’ keyboards will be manufactured by a US-based firm, but similar germ-resistant PC peripherals can already be ordered online. Manufacturer Man & Machine, which is taking Apple to court over the Mighty Mouse name, sells several ‘clean’ keyboard designs online.