‘Robot’ pharmacy for rural Scotland

A ‘robot pharmacy’ could transform how residents of Scotland’s rural areas access medicine.

The £150,000 kiosk, currently being trialled in Aberdeenshire, allows users to speak to a pharmacist via webcam and safely collect prescriptions.

The project is being supported by digital services firm Atos, medical automation company ARX UK, NHS Grampian, the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and Robert Gordon University.

The Scottish government is also part-funding the scheme.

The kiosk currently being trialled in Inverallochy is linked to a ‘hub’ pharmacy in neighbouring Fraserburgh.

Professor Christine Bond, chair in general practice and primary care at Aberdeen University, which developed the scheme, said: “The role of the pharmacist and the services they provide has expanded greatly in recent years so in rural areas where it is not financially viable to have a pharmacy, the local community are disadvantaged.

“We were tasked with exploring whether pharmacy services could be supplied remotely via video link but then we were introduced [to] Atos and they were able to bring their expertise to the project.”

People can also collect some dispensed medicines from the kiosk, as well as deposit prescriptions for collection later and access services such as the minor ailment service.