1st April 2015 – New robot joins pharmacy team at Airedale Hospital
An important member has been welcomed to the pharmacy team at Airedale Hospital to help speed up their dispensing service – an automated dispensing robot.
The new addition to the team allows pharmacy staff to spend more time on wards working directly with nurses and doctors, and helping patients to understand their medicines.
This will help reduce wastage, for example, by giving pharmacy staff more time to check medicines that patients bring in and to review patients’ medical histories. It will also reduce the chance of dispensing errors and speed up the delivery of medicines.
The current turnaround time for pharmacy dispensing a discharge prescription is two hours from receipt of prescription. It is estimated the robot will half that time and help patients get home sooner.
Nick Chilton, clinical director of pharmacy and medicine management at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The project has been in the Trust’s capital plan for some years and the pharmacy team are very excited. It has become a reality with the help from the Department Of Health’s Safer Wards – Safer Hospital Fund and the Trust’s digital care programme.
“Not only will the robot improve safety and improve patient experience, it will also reduce stock holding of medicines within pharmacy. The automation is an integral part of redesigning the pharmacy department and a key development in supporting the tranformation of pharmacy services. Altogether, it’s a great return on investment.”
Deborah Walker, lead pharmacy technician for medicines distribution at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The robot has been a joy to work with. We no longer have to make trips to our storeroom. It takes away a lot of the manual parts of our job and allows us to spend more time with patients.”
Around 80 percent of medicines kept in pharmacy are now held by the robot which is linked to the department’s computer system. When an order is placed, the required machines are picked by a robotic arm and delivered to the dispensary work station by conveyor belt.
The robot installation cost £410,000 which included a redesign or the floor space and process flows. The giant piece of equipment (10m x 3m) comes with two robotic picking arms, a refrigerated section, and an additional set of cabinets for storage and management of controlled drugs.