Aberdeen Royal Infirmary has a new, convenient site for its pharmacy dispensary and now features high efficiency robotics.
This new facility - one of the first in Scotland to use high speed automation - dispenses hospital in-patient and
out-patient prescriptions at the ARI concourse. It also provides patients with a dual-level reception counter and a quiet room where their medicines can be discussed in confidence.
Leading the new development is Rachel Wilson, Pharmacy Service Development Pharmacist: "Patients told us they wanted a more convenient venue than the current dispensary in the basement. In addition to improved access, we wanted to improve efficiency and provide a dedicated room for patients to find out more about the medicines they have collected."
The automated dispensing system comprises two units, each 5.5m long and 3m high and has the capacity to store approximately 17,500 packs of medicines. The system can be loaded manually by scanning each pack for the robotic arm to pick and store, or loaded automatically with the packs being loaded from a conveyor. At night, the system rearranges the packs to ensure best use of space, ready for the next day.
"When a prescription is ready for dispensing, the details are entered onto the pharmacy computer system. The robot then selects the medicines and delivers them via a spiral chute and controlled gate system directly to the appropriate work station, where they are labelled and checked for the patients by pharmacy staff," says Rachel.
"By removing the manual selection of medicines, the introduction of an automated dispensing system will improve efficiency, reducing waiting times for patients and carers. So, not only does this provide a better location for patients, it also provides the pharmacy team with a better facility to deliver a safe, efficient, professional service."
The pharmacy is not a community pharmacy, so it does not dispense GP prescriptions, or sell medicines.