Robot will dispense drugs
HOSPITAL officials predict an end to long waits for prescription drugs at the William Harvey, thanks to their latest signing – robopharmacist. Manufactured in Germany, the new £125,000 computerised storage system for drugs uses a robotic arm and a suction system to dispense medicine at high speed. It also monitors which drugs it has in stock by scanning the barcodes on their boxes. Speaking at a patients’ forum meeting in Charing, Peter Bramley, acting director of pharmacy at the east Kent hospitals trust, said: “We wanted to make our supply of drugs more efficient. “For several years, the Department of Health has said it’s a good thing, and pharmacists should be introducing these robots, but in practice, dispensaries were not designed with the idea that a large metal box should be placed in the rooms, so the introduction of them has been very slow. “The benefit of automatic dispensing is that it is more rapid. Instead of going to the shelves and looking for them, the medicines will come to you. “It is also safer, because some of the names of the medicines are very similar, and the packaging can look the same. “The robot works on an 11 digit barcode, so it reduces the risk of the wrong medicine being given out.” Mr Bramley also reassured the members of the forum that no jobs at pharmacies had been affected by the new technology.