The robot will drive efficiency in patient care, said the hospital. Credit: Robertson

Robertson refurb brings robot to hospital

A self-cleaning robot which learns from its work has been installed to help staff at Sunderland Royal Hospital as part of a £750,000 outpatient pharmacy for South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

Robertson Construction North East was responsible for the refurbishment, which houses the robot, providing a larger and brighter area for patients to collect medication alongside a new waiting area set up just inside the entrance to Chester Wing.

The newly installed BD Rowa Vmax robot will help the team deliver around 60,000 prescriptions a year, with between 200 and 300 patients helped every day.

The pharmacy team has used robots to store, select, label and deliver medicines for a number of years, improving dispense speed and accuracy and freeing up time for patient care.

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust funded the build, while the robot fit out and equipment were paid for by its subsidiary CHoICE.

This follows installation of a prescription vending machine, believed to be the first of its kind in a UK hospital, allowing patients to collect prescription medication 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the touch of just a few buttons.

James Hubbard is superintendent pharmacist for CHoICE Pharmacy, which is part of CHoICE Facilities Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

He 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.

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

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