Secondary Care

New Pharmacy robot saves almost two weeks of staff time per month

A new robot used to dispense drugs at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH), will save staff four minutes per prescription, totalling two weeks of staff time per month.

The new robot nicknamed ‘Rosalind Franklin’ will help staff at Queen’s Medical Centre deliver prescriptions to patients more quickly and effectively.

NUH’s Pharmacy provides medicine to approximately 4,700 patients each month. The robot, installed in September, is now fully operational and is reducing the wait times for patients and freeing up staff time, resulting in a quicker prescription delivery. The robot will give the Pharmacy team more time to spend with patients, advising them about their drugs.

The robot is a large (8m x 2m x 2m) enclosed space. The drugs are stored along the insides, and two picking heads travel on tracks up and down collecting and putting away the medication. The robot reads the expiry date and remembers where each pack is.

The robot always picks exactly the right quantity and product first time, every time.

The tablets and capsules are stored in the most space efficient way; not necessarily in any order a human would recognise. When the pharmacy receives a prescription from a patient, a pharmacist will generate the label with instructions for the medicine as normal, then the robot selects the pack and places it next to the pharmacist and after a final check, it is given to the patient. Replacement stock is reordered and, when it arrives, the robot checks it is the correct product, before storing.

Guy Wilkes, Managing Director of NUH’s pharmacy said: “The Trust set up its own pharmacy business to help make these sorts of improvements to patient care. It’s a significant bit of equipment and it is something that does capture people’s imagination!”