Partick pharmacy installs hole-in-the-wall robot to ease fears over virus and contact

By Ian Marland at

A clever piece of technology is giving peace of mind to patients during the pandemic lockdown.

A robotic prescription collection point – a similar idea to a hole-in-the-wall cash till – has been installed at Houlihan Pharmacy in Partick.

It’s only the second automated machine of its kind in the west of Scotland.

Google Earth street view

Houlihan’s pharmacy is on the corner of Dumbarton Road and Gardner Street. Photo: Google Earth

The new service has gone live when it is needed most – during the current coronavirus outbreak.

The Pharmaself 24 machine ensures patients and carers can collect prescriptions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – without the need for contact inside the pharmacy.

Rodney Haugh, operations manager at Houlihan Pharmacy, said: “We have already seen unprecedented demand for this service in our pharmacy in Darnley.

“A customer phoned me today whose daughter suffered from an auto-immune disorder.


“The mother was understandably anxious about coming into the pharmacy and interacting with other patients despite the measures that we have put in place with regards to social distancing.

“We recommended signing up for the Pharmaself 24 robot.

“This way she wouldn’t need to come into the Pharmacy and could collect her prescription without interacting with anyone.

“She was absolutely delighted with this and she has since collected her daughter’s medication safely.”

Man and machine

David Sneddon and the automated collection machine.

The coronavirus outbreak and lockdown has seen an unprecedented demand on pharmacies across the UK.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11. The prescription collection robot at the pharmacy on the corner of Dumbarton Road and Gardner Street launched on March 30.

The Pharmaself 24 robot loads dispensed prescriptions within its secure frame ready for collection from its external hatch.

Houlihan Pharmacy Director Denis Houlihan said: “This is an extremely challenging time for pharmacists and assistants as we deal with an almost overwhelming workload and a phone that never stops ringing.


“At Houlihan Pharmacy we are always looking to see how technology can support us in our role.

“The Pharmaself 24 robot which we have installed allows access to the public 24/7 for their dispensed prescriptions.

“A text message is automatically sent to the patient when their prescription is loaded into the robot.

“This notification with a secure PIN code will provide reassurance to the patient that their medication is ready for collection.

‘This is an extremely challenging time for Pharmacists and assistants as we deal with an almost overwhelming workload and a phone that never stops ringing’

Denis Houlihan

“Currently 50% of calls to the pharmacy relate to queries regarding receipt of prescriptions and if they are ready to be collected.

“The notification by text from the system should reduce our call volume dramatically and allow us to have more time to deal with other clinicians and more urgent patient requests.”

Partick pharmacy manager David Sneddon said the system was simple to use and would extend the services they have to offer.

“We are delighted with the collection system.

“It is straightforward and takes less than a minute to get your prescription dispensed.”


Inside the machine: the automated collection point can deliver 200 separate prescriptions.

How does the process work?

Step 1: Order your prescription from your GP surgery in the normal way. Houlihan Pharmacy will then collect this for you.

Step 2: Your prescription is dispensed and your medicines are put into the Prescription Collection Point.

Step 3: The Collection Point sends you a text message telling you that your medicines are ready for collection and gives you a PIN number for that collection.

Step 4: You can conveniently collect from the Collection Point, 24/7, even when the Pharmacy is closed.

* To sign up please contact Houlihan Pharmacy Partick Freefone 0808 164 2264 option 5