Visit the Nelson Pharmacy and you probably won’t see Erim the robot, tucked away in a special cupboard behind the counter. Erim whizzes up and down the aisle, finding and delivering supplies as quickly as possible, working hypnotically with superhuman precision.
Rows of robotic arms sort and bottle multicoloured pills, sending them down conveyor belts ready for the pharmacist to dispense. Erim checks dates, cleans and separates expired stock to ensure the highest standards of patient safety. In the morning medicines are ready to be speedily dispensed to customers.
Every month Erim can dispense 150,000 prescriptions. The robot reduces the time it takes to place medicines on the shelf by 28% and the time searching for products by 33%. Over three metres long, Erim is powered by artificial intelligence.
The biggest advantage of the robot is that it has cut the waiting time for prescriptions by 50%”
Abdul Sami Abid, pharmacy supervisor, manages Erim. He said: “The biggest advantage of the robot is that it has cut the waiting time for prescriptions by 50%, sometimes down to less than two minutes. When we are busy, the robot gets medication ready quickly and accurately, so we have more time to spend with all our patients.”
Pharmacist Yasmin Javid says having the robot helps free up time, so the team of qualified experts is ready to deal with all the winter pressures.
“We would like to encourage people to come to their local pharmacists first,” she said. “Pharmacists train for five years, so we have a vast knowledge and might save you a visit to your GP. We can help with winter illnesses and advise on managing symptoms. We offer a wide range of services … You may not know that we can advise on weight management, ear health, blood pressure checks and all vaccinations. If needed, we can refer you on to hospital and your GP.”
Susan Ames is a regular visitor to the pharmacy. She said: “I come for a medication review for my asthma in the private consultation room and it’s excellent. They always help me, checking I have the right prescription. I come here before I go to the doctor because pharmacists are experts in medicines and have years of training. You can walk in here at any time.”
It is easy to get ready for winter with a flu jab”
Another patient said she found it helpful that her prescriptions were sent directly to the pharmacy so she could just drop in when they are ready.
“It’s been really helpful for repeat prescriptions as I need EpiPens and I get a text message when they are ready to collect. It is easy to get ready for winter with a flu jab and your vaccinations.”