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Last Updated: Monday, 28 June, 2004, 06:44 GMT 07:44 UK
Robot medicine dispenser unveiled
Robot dispenser at Addenbrooke's Hospital
The first robot in the region was at Addenbrooke's Hospital
A hospital has installed a 250,000 robot to dispense medicines.

The machine was introduced as part of a 1.4m scheme to modernise and expand Basildon Hospital pharmacy.

NHS managers hope it will cut down on the number of dispensing mistakes, speed up the service, and free up staff so they can improve the service.

The modernisation project has taken two years to complete, and the robot is the first of its kind to be installed into an Essex hospital.

The robot works in a similar way to a canned drinks machine and stores stock which is loaded and retrieved by mechanical arms.

Fast service

Once a prescription has been logged, pharmacy staff order the medication and print a patient label from their computer.

The drugs are then picked and placed in a chute by the robot, arriving at the dispenser's workstation in ten seconds.

Geoff Sharman, clinical services directorate manager at the hospital said: "The new system will save staff and manpower.

"It will be quicker for patients to get their medicines and help pharmacy staff to provide a more efficient service.

"The robot also uses less storage space than a traditional pharmacy, giving us a more comfortable and spacious working environment."

The first computerised dispensing machine in the region was unveiled at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, in January.

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