Pharmacy2U ‚Äď the UK‚Äôs first and largest internet pharmacy ‚Äď today unveiled a ¬£3.5m state-of-the-art prescription fulfilment facility
The 30,000 sq ft facility in Leeds is the first of its kind in the UK, created to a bespoke and patent-pending design. It can dispatch one million prescription items a month, more than 10 times the capacity of the company‚Äôs previous system.
It combines the latest automation and logistics technologies – alongside input from skilled pharmacy personnel – to ensure an efficient and clinically safe process.
The opening of the new facility is a major milestone for the 17-year-old company, which worked with the NHS on the original electronic prescription pilots and now operates a widely used EPS-enabled home delivery repeat medication service.
It will underpin the growth of the company‚Äôs NHS service, as well as supporting its over-the-counter, private prescription and online doctor services. It could also provide additional capacity for high street pharmacies.
Chief Operating Officer Daniel Lee said: ‚ÄúThis is the latest in a long and proud history of innovation from Pharmacy2U.
‚ÄúThroughout our history, we have showed that there are new ways to provide pharmacy services ‚Äď using the internet and home delivery to give patients more convenience and choice.
‚ÄúThis bold new investment will take our business to the next level. It is in line with the NHS‚Äô aim of increasing the availability of new types of pharmacy service and it could also benefit the wider community pharmacy sector by providing new capacity to support the introduction of more hub and spoke operations.
The majority of the investment in the facility came from Pharmacy2U, supported by a ¬£450,000 local enterprise grant from Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership business growth programme.
Sixty-three new jobs have been created at the company since work began on the project.
The new facility was designed by Pharmacy2U with support from warehouse management software and logistics supplier Logistex. Jerry Woodhouse, Managing Director for Logistex, said: ‚ÄúThis automated pharmaceutical dispensing system represents a technological advance not previously deployed in the UK. Pharmacy2U has been visionary in its strategy to embrace the latest automation systems and technology to deliver the highest levels of security, service and operational efficiency.‚ÄĚ
How it works and key technical features
(NHS Repeat Prescription Service)
- Prescription request. Patients request their repeat prescription with Pharmacy2U online or by phone. Pharmacy2U then arranges the prescription with a patient‚Äôs GP, who issues it via the NHS Electronic Prescription Service (EPSr2).
- Pharmacist review. One of Pharmacy2U‚Äôs pharmacists checks all new prescriptions.
- Clinical checks. Accuracy and clinical governance is built into every step of the process. Prescriptions can be auto-labelled using the latest in drug code matching technology and checked for accuracy by qualified technicians.
- The technology includes a three-way barcode verification procedure, which is included in the patent application and ensures that pharmacy technicians place the correct label on the correct medicine.
- Automated dispensing. Two automated dispensing systems from Rowa Technologies by Becton Dickinson are housed within a secure medicine cabinet and can pick up to 32 prescription items every eight to twelve seconds.
- Pharmacy technicians working on the fast moving ‚Äúpick by light‚ÄĚ section can process a prescription item every three seconds
- Bespoke packaging. An automated packaging system from B+ Equipment reduces the size of each package to the exact size of the products inside – minimising waste and postage costs. The machine can produce up to 900 boxes per hour.
- Order journey. The storage and picking areas are approximately 650m2 (the size of 2.5 tennis courts). Conveyor belts stretching 550m (nearly twice the height of the Shard building in London) navigate the order through the process.
You can hear more about the new facility here: