On-ward pouch dispensing could revolutionise NHS hospitals.

Salford Royal’s initial pouch dispensing trials reduce medication rounds by thirty minutes.

Salford Royal Hospital is known as a hub for healthcare innovation. Its Digital Experience Centre is open to the public and boasts ground-breaking medical technology that could revolutionise the health sector. One recent collaboration shows great potential for NHS healthcare.


If you’ve ever worked in a hospital, you’ll know how laborious medication management can be. With many patients to care for and ambitious targets, the workload is intense. Recent years have seen UK hospital wards more crowded than ever, and a government budget that is spread very finely over a large sector. These issues make medication dispensing all the more challenging.

Medication errors: crunching the numbers

A 2018 report commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care shows concerning insight into UK medication errors. The report estimated that 237 million medication errors occur every year in England, causing up to 22,000 deaths and an NHS cost of £1.6 billion. (1)

The report found errors at all stages of the medication process, from prescribing to dispensing and administration. Of the studies conducted in secondary care, the results showed that a whopping 78.6% of medication errors occur at the administration stage. This is testament to the growing pressures on our hospital staff and the shortage of staff resource available.

Medication errors have no place in a modern NHS

In light of the NHS’s 70th anniversary this year, speculation is bubbling about what the future holds. Undoubtedly, we must adapt outdated approaches and embrace technology if we are to contend as one of the world leaders in healthcare. Just recently at the annual NHS Expo, the Health Secretary spoke of his vision for a ‘tech-driven NHS’. (2) Mr. Hancock pointed out that we have the technology to revolutionise our processes at our fingertips.

The PillTime solution

PillTime was founded to offer a solution for medication errors. Its unique dispensing method uses the latest robotic technology to dispense medication into dose-specific pouches. Each pouch is checked by optical recognition technology to ensure accuracy. These innovative processes eliminate the risk of human error and make medication administration simple.


The Salford Royal Project

Already helping thousands of people throughout the UK, PillTime was looking to offer support to patients in secondary care.

Salford Royal’s innovative approach to healthcare made it the perfect candidate for a PillTime collaboration. Having created a mini PillTime dispensary in the Digital Experience Centre, complete with robot and optical checker, we decided to trial medication pouches on-ward. We set up a fully-functional dispensary in Salford Royal’s Pharmacy department, which allows our unique dispensing process to run throughout the hospital.

On-ward PillTime dispensing is still in the early trial stages but is shaping up to be a great success. Nursing staff reported that PillTime pouches are saving them an average of 30 minutes per medication round. Clear labelling ensures efficiency in administration, as each pouch is labelled with the dose details as well as the day, date and time that it needs to be taken.

The next stage of the collaboration is scheduled for early 2019. The pilot project will see PillTime medication management systems sent home with discharge patients, to improve the discharge process and bolster medication adherence post-admission.

Experience the innovation

PillTime will be hosting an open morning for members of the public at Salford Royal Hospital on 29th November. The event will begin at 10am and promises to be an exciting opportunity to find out more about the collaboration.

If you’d like to find out more about PillTime’s service to patients in the community, visit our How it Works page.



  1. Prevalence and economic burden of medication errors in the NHS in England, EEPRU, 2018.
  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/my-vision-for-a-more-tech-driven-nhs Accessed: 23.11.18