Pharmacy robots are remedy for stock control

PUBLISHED: 11:35 08 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:17 06 May 2010

The mechanical arm which will pick stock

The mechanical arm which will pick stock

A HOSPITAL trust has invested £400,000 on two pharmacy robots for its hospitals to help save thousands of pounds in the long term. East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust has bought the robots for Lister Hospital in Stevenage and QEII Hospital in Welwyn Ga

A HOSPITAL trust has invested £400,000 on two pharmacy robots for its hospitals to help save thousands of pounds in the long term.

East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust has bought the robots for Lister Hospital in Stevenage and QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City.

The robots, which will play a major role in the selection and dispensing and distribution of drugs for patients, are hoped to save the Trust £400,000 every year.

But jobs will not go as a result of this project. Between them, the two pharmacies have around 120 staff and handle around 2,000 different items every day.

The new robots, which have been used elsewhere in the NHS, are used to automate the selection of drugs, either for use onwards or for dispensing directly to patients.

The robots are hoped to make efficiency savings by improving stock control, enabling pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to spend more time on wards and by speeding up the process of dispensing drugs for patients to take home with them once they are ready to be discharged.

Nick Carver, chief executive, said: "These two pharmacy robots show how it's possible to make real savings while also investing in an improved service for patients.

"They will allow our highly trained pharmacy staff to do more of what they're trained to do - ensuring that patients benefit more from their training in how best drugs should be used.

"While it's a very exciting and highly innovative project, I know that as the new systems are being built there will be much disruption to both hospital dispensaries over the coming weeks.

"The staff will, of course, be doing everything they can to maintain a business as normal service, but I know that any inconvenience will be worthwhile once the robots are up and running."

Mr Carver added: "For an investment of around £300,000, the robotic dispensing systems - to give their official title - will save the Trust about £400,000 annually. Over a three-year period, for example, this project will give the Trust savings totalling well over £1 million against that initial one-off investment - which will make a major contribution to delivering our current financial recovery plan.

"What's more, it also helps to provide an enhanced service to patients and makes sure that our pharmacy teams make the best use of their expert knowledge.

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