Pharmacy robot

Self-cleaning robot headlines £750,000 pharmacy revamp in Sunderland

A state-of-the-art pharmacy robot is helping NHS staff in the North East of England save time and spend more of the day treating patients.

The robot – nicknamed Roberto but otherwise known as the BD Rowa Vmax – helps dispense medicine in a more timely manner and has been installed as part of the new £750,000 outpatient pharmacy at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Roberto will deliver approximately 60,000 prescriptions per year and support 200-300 patients every day, according to South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

                           Video credit: South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust

James Hubbard, who is superintendent pharmacist for CHoICE Pharmacy, a subsidiary of the trust, said: "The new pharmacy looks absolutely fantastic. It’s a much better environment for our patients and staff.

"We’ve used robots in pharmacy for a while, but this is another level. Technology is advancing what we can do all of the time. This robot has double the capacity, as it has two picking arms and can do twice as much.”

The robot learns to be more efficient as it goes; it will place the most commonly picked items nearest the delivery chute, for example. It also cleans inside the storage space of the pharmacy and keeps track of things like use-by-dates for staff members.

The new robot not only follows similar installations at the end of 2021 in South Tyneside, it also comes after the launch of a prescription vending machine – ostensibly, a first-of-its-kind innovation in a UK hospital.

"We need to keep investing in innovation so we can continue to provide the best service for our patients now and in the future,” added Hubbard.

Image credit: iStock

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