By Saul Cooke-Black, Local Democracy Reporter
Residents will soon be able to collect their prescriptions at any time of the day from a Newport pharmacy after plans to install an automated collection machine were given the green light.
The plans lodged by JDS Evans Pharmacy in Belle Vue Terrace to fit the machine outside the building, replacing an existing window pane, have been approved by Newport City Council.
The service will work by pharmacy staff loading medicines into the Pharmaself24 machine using a barcode to ensure security.
Patients will receive a text message when their prescription is ready to be collected, with a unique PIN number.
They will then enter the PIN on a touchscreen and the medicine will be dispensed from a slot.
The collection flap will be automatically locked when patients are not collecting prescriptions.
The 24/7 service is aimed at reducing waiting times for customers and will allow them to collect prescriptions at any time.
It has been used elsewhere in the UK and Europe, proving particularly effective during the coronavirus pandemic.
A council planning report backed the plans for approval and raised no objections.
“The proposed dispensary machine would provide an additional health and community facility to be used alongside the existing pharmacy,” it said.
Planning documents say the service could be particularly useful for repeat prescriptions and those who work outside pharmacy opening hours such as shift workers and carers.
It is also said the plan would allow the pharmacy to spend more time with patients who need it and deliver new services.
“The machines have operated in numerous premises throughout the current pandemic and have proved itself invaluable in providing a contact-free and continuous service, supporting the NHS services and providing an invaluable community benefit while negating footfall inside of buildings and reducing face-to-face meetings,” a design and access statement says.
The dispensary will be located next to the footway along Belle Vue Road and can hold a maximum of 14 prescription bags.
Pharmacy staff will decide which types of medicine are suitable to be collected from the machine.
The machine will also be covered by an alarm used by the pharmacy and monitored by external CCTV.