Hospital chiefs unveil their new �1million robot pharmacist

IT CAN remember the precise whereabouts and expiry dates of more than 20,000 drugs and will help save its human colleagues time and effort by carrying out stocktaking duties.

The new robot – yet to be given a name – has been introduced to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds as part of the health trust’s new �1.63m pharmacy.

The new unit has been built on the site of the old pharmacy store at the rear of the hospital.

The year-long building project has also provided a new facility for the sterile production of chemotherapy and a new in-patient and outpatient dispensary.

The robot can memorise where it has stored up to 20,000 packets of drugs so it can retrieve them quickly and efficiently when they are needed, saving staff valuable time.

The robot will also help with stock control by memorising expiry dates and selecting the medicines with the closest date first, in turn reducing waste.

West Suffolk Hospital chief pharmacist Simon Whitworth said: “We are extremely pleased with the new pharmacy unit, which will greatly improve the efficiency of the service which we can offer to our patients.

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“As well as improving the speed at which medicines can be dispensed, the robot will also free-up huge amounts of staff time which would otherwise need to be spent locating drugs by hand.

“This will mean our pharmacy staff can spend more time on the wards, improving the service we offer to our in-patients.”

The new unit has brought all the hospital’s pharmacy services, which were previously spread over three sites, into one area.

Executive chief operating officer Gwen Nuttall said: “Creating the pharmacy has given us the opportunity to invest in some of the latest technology, which again underlines the trust’s commitment to providing excellent services in the future. We are confident that these new facilities will make a real difference to our patients and staff.”

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