Pharmaceutical Warehouse Automation at the Mid Cheshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Leighton Hospital)


The Client

Mid Cheshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (MCHT) is a 600 bed acute hospital located in the North West of England.

MCHT pharmacy dispense medicines against prescriptions for inpatients, discharges and outpatients, as well as assembling medicines held as stock on more than 24 wards and a number of clinical areas, such as outpatient clinics and day care units.

The pharmacy dispenses approximately 1500 items each day for named patients, assembles approximately 10 ward stock top up boxes each day including around 800 items in total, and receives approximately 25 deliveries into goods receipt for processing into the department.

The majority of these items are now stored in the RIEDL Phasys robot, so require to be output or input from the robot in order to be processed.


The pharmacy department originally had an automated storage robot installed around 2008 and by 2019, it was nearing the end of its usability.

The department were keen to consider upgraded technology rather than arrange for a straight replacement of the equipment that was already installed, whereby its limitations were well known.

The team began the process of tender, and were introduced to a range of companies with offers, including GPI.

All offers and options were fully evaluated and scored according to the department’s needs, as well as NHS Trust policies and compliance with local legislation.

GPI was awarded the contract, with the offer of the RIEDL Phasys robot and AIS system for automatic loading.

All offers presented had both pros and cons, but the solution offered by GPI seemed to fit the department’s requirements most closely.

The Challenges

The pharmacy team worked with GPI to design a solution to fit the individual needs of the department; despite limitations with space and finances, their offer was a vast improvement on the previous installation.

There were a number of challenges, including strict rules around IT networks and IT equipment for use within the NHS, restricted space for the installation, limitations regarding the possibility of enabling building works, as well as the requirement for the department to remain open and functioning as normal while the installation took place.

All of these challenges ran alongside the issues posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but by January 2021, GPI were able to begin to the installation.

The Solution

The pharmacy replaced their previous automated storage robot with a 12 meter automated storage robot, with dual picking heads, automated input systems and the Phasys WMS programme for stock management and ward box picking.

There are four outputs for ward top up boxes, seven outputs for dispensing and an out of hours output which is secure but accessible from the hospital street corridor.

The benefits

The robot works at lower noise levels than the previous installation but at faster speeds and with higher reliability.

This increased reliability has allowed the pharmacy team to develop their service to enhance their workflows to include more processes such as overnight picking of ward top up boxes.

The installation is valued within the department and the team are happy to be the first GPI robot installation in England.

Future Evolution / Objectives

We are working with GPI and System C (the pharmacy management software provider) to activate the mobile functionality of the Phasys WMS programme for managing products handled externally to the robot.

This feature will allow us to have complete traceability of pharmacy activities, not just those related to the robot.

Case histories