Sunderland Royal Hospital trials 24/7 prescription vending machine

Sunderland Royal Hospital has introduced a vending machine that allows patients access to their prescriptions 24/7 at the touch of a button.

The device, called Pharmaself24, was piloted with 100 patients who have rheumatoid arthritis. Previously, they were given a quarterly supply of the immunosuppressant drug methotrexate,  available only through a hospital service following a phone consultation. But now with the pilot machine, patients will have access to their prescriptions using the prescription vending machine.

It has been trialled for 12 months with arthritis patients, and after receiving positive feedback it is set to be used across the hospital, for example with patients receiving renal care. The trust is also looking at adding further machines in other locations.

Speaking of the new machines, Superintendent Pharmacist for City Hospitals Independent Commercial Enterprises Ltd (CHoICE) James Hubbard said, “The machine complements the weekday service we offer from our outpatient pharmacy, but gives our patients more choice and flexibility around when they want to collect their prescriptions.”

The machine operates by sending a message to a patient who has signed up for the service to say their prescription is ready to collect, and a six-digit pin to input into the machine. It then mimics the procedure of a pharmacy by asking a series of questions for the patients to ensure it is the right medication before dispensing the medication to the patient. The machine takes moments to dispense the readily-packed medication, as it normally would be presented over the counter.

Take a look at a full demonstration of the machine below: