Automated pharmaceutical hub planned for West Yorkshire

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Pharmacy and digital healthcare company HubRx, is aiming to create the UK’s first automated dispensing hub purpose built for independently owned community pharmacies in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

The company is investing some £8 million in a 40,000 sq ft hub, which will be able to dispense up to one million prescription items each month using a web-based Patient Medical Record system known as RxWEb PMR provided by Clanwilliam Health with whom HubRx has a commercial agreement.

New legislation is going through parliament to allow legally separate pharmacies to set up shared hub-and-spoke dispensing services. The ‘Medicines and Medical Devices Bill 2019/2020’ will allow large multiple pharmacies with existing dispensing hubs to expand their capacity and offer chargeable prescription assembly services to independent and small multiple pharmacies.

It is expected that the NHS, wholesalers and new companies could set up new large-scale hub facilities as is the case with HubRx.

It has been said that hub-and-spoke dispensing could reduced staff time on dispensing at the spoke pharmacy, freeing up time to provide other services, and has the potential to reduce rates of dispensing errors.

In the HubRx model, pharmacies will be able to digitally send prescriptions to HubRx for automated dispensing and delivery to the community pharmacy for collection by the patient.

HubRx chief executive Daniel Lee, who also set up Pharmacy2U, said: “The move comes as local pharmacies take on an expanded role in the community during the coronavirus outbreak. As GP surgeries struggle to stay open and cope with the wave of coronavirus infections, many pharmacists have become the first port of call for worried patients seeking trusted health advice – while also coping with a huge increase in prescriptions.

HubRx has signed a commercial agreement with Clanwilliam Health who provide RxWeb Patient Medical Record (PMR) system which is currently used by over 1,800 pharmacies across the UK.

The systems will be integrated to create processes that facilitate the safe and seamless transfer of prescriptions to the hub and then delivery back to the pharmacy. Importantly, independent pharmacists will remain in control of the patient relationship throughout the dispensing process.

HubRx chief executive Daniel Lee said: “For the first time ever, due to new legislation currently going through parliament, the UK’s 4,461 independents will be able to realise the time-saving benefits of automated dispensing and create a level playing field with the big multiple pharmacies already benefitting from this.

“Our hub will give pharmacies the option to outsource up to 70% of their dispensing workload.”

The new service is designed to support the transformation of independents as they adapt to the new Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework – and ensure that the patient relationship remains with the local pharmacy.”

The facility will be designed with real-time stock information and support the highest clinical accuracy and safety standards. It will use the latest software to drive operational efficiency within the pharmacy.

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