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Welsh government pledges up to £20k per pharmacy for automation

Contractors need to specify how the grant will help them “achieve efficiencies”

Community pharmacy contractors can apply for a £20,000 grant to install automated systems at their premises, the Welsh government has announced.

Following the popularity of the 2020/21 automated systems scheme, the Welsh government is inviting applications for a second year, it said in a letter to contractors last month (April 12).

Pharmacies can apply for a share of £200,000 allocated to introduce automated systems in community pharmacies in 2021/22. This will be capped at a “maximum of £20,000 per premises… to support as many applications as possible”, according to the letter, which was signed by chief pharmaceutical officer Andrew Evans and head of pharmacy and prescribing Lynne Schofield.

Criteria of assessment

Those who were awarded a share of the government’s automation budget last year – who received grants of up to £25,000 – “tested alternative automated processes or demonstrated the proposed benefits to their particular business and local community”, Mr Evans and Ms Schofield said.

In their applications, contractors should specify how the grant will help them “achieve efficiencies” and specify how it “will ensure an improved patient experience”, according to the letter.

“In view of the limited resources available, companies with more than one branch should consider the requirement to identify and outline the benefits to a specific pharmacy and community and not submit generic applications,” Mr Evans and Ms Schofield advised.

Pharmacies have until May 28 to submit their applications, which they can email to [email protected].

More than £9 million was paid to contractors in Wales in 2020/21, in addition to the global sum agreed, in recognition of the role played by the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will your pharmacy apply for this grant?

Angry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

So essentially prescriptions can be collected 24/7 without the responsible pharmacist being present. Great!!

M. Rx(n), Student

I don't think that's the case.

I think such a dispensing system can be loaded and set to dispense as and when needed - it still requires final handling by the Pharmacist at the end, I think.

It has been in use in some hospitals (e.g. Cornwall) for some time now.

Richard MacLeavy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

I'm not presenting an opinion on automation itself but if the welsh government want to see automation would they not be more effective by simply adopting EPS? The rest of any automation process hinges on that in my opinion. 

M. Rx(n), Student

By the way, I think it is great to have individual pharmacies think about integrating dispensing technology into their own processes. It's fair.

Keeping it open for everyone is great!

M. Rx(n), Student

How many GOVERNMENT-OWNED hubs can be built across Wales with the total sum?

And even if it would cost more than that, how much leverage in the long-term would it give the government to have such hubs?

A cost analysis? Unless this is just a temporary foray to get everyone in step?

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