Darent Valley Hospital has reduced the average time taken to dispense patient discharge medicines from four hours to 15 minutes using a new handheld mobile printing solution from Episys.

The hospital, part of Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, was using the Episys Ultimate labelling system in its aseptic production unit and is now using it to support the ward-based dispensing of medicines.

John Richardson, director of pharmacy, said: "Previously, the medical staff would come and see the patient on the ward, the request for medication would be sent to the pharmacy to be dispensed, and then a porter would need to deliver the completed To Take Out medicine up to the correct ward before the patient was able to leave.

"This pathway could take up to four hours. Now many TTA medicines can be dispensed by the ward based pharmacy team in around 15 minutes.”

Richardson continued: “Safety comes in to this as well. When a patient comes into hospital with their own medication – known as Patient Own Drugs or PoD – these need to be correctly labelled.

"Previously, these drugs were sometimes discarded and new drugs dispensed if the POD labelling quality was poor. Now the PODs can be relabelled on the ward and medicine wastage is reduced.”

Peter Lewis, marketing firector at Episys, said: The mobile printers could, in time, be used on every ward, speeding up the time taken to dispense the TTA medicines and repatriate them with the patients. This results in freeing up beds faster."