A ROBOT which will speed up prescriptions and reduce human error is now running a North-East hospital pharmacy department.

Dubbed Rob the Robo Doc after a suggestion by 11-yearold patient Cerise Higson, the computerised robotic dispensing system has been installed at the University Hospital of North Durham.

Hospital bosses say that prescriptions will now be dispensed quicker, medication errors will be reduced and stock will be ordered and delivered directly to and from ward areas across three hospital sites.

It is hoped that the robotic system will improve patient safety, reduce human errors and allow pharmacy staff to spend more time with patients.

The machine holds up to 48,000 packs of drugs and will handle more than 75 per cent of the pharmacy’s stock.

Sally Bell, deputy chief pharmacist for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said; “The robot will streamline the entire dispensing processing, making it safer and quicker for our patients and staff.

“It will reduce the risk of dispensing errors and also help to reduce waste by monitoring expiry dates – when drugs are delivered the packages will be scanned into the robot and stored so that the older stock is used first.”

It means staff from each of the trust’s main hospital sites, University Hospital of North Durham, Bishop Auckland Hospital and Darlington Memorial Hospital, can order stock directly from the pharmacy robot.

Children from the paediatric ward, Treetops, were invited to help launch the system.

Jack Lawson, nine, was chosen to turn on the robot.

Pictured with Competition winner Jack Lawson, nine, are Sally Bell, deputy chief pharmacist, left, business and information manager Deborah Potts, logistics manager Moya Toner and Pauline Crow, right, from the Treetops children’s ward at the pharmacy at University Hospital of North Durham.