Aberdeen Royal Infirmary pharmacists having to dispense medicine by hand after robot malfunction

Two of the dispensing robots at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, named Dee and Don.

Patients are enduring longer stays in a city hospital after flooding caused major damage to its drug-dispensing robots.

A leaking pipe spouted water into the dispensary at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on Monday night, rendering it inaccessible to staff and breaking crucial equipment.

It affected the main concourse of the building, known as the yellow zone, and has also forced the closure of the Aroma cafe, which was only refurbished last year.

Pharmacists are now having to dispense medicine for all ARI patients by hand, or from a smaller base in the neighbouring children’s hospital, slowing down the process.

NHS Grampian urged patients to “bear with” them while repairs were carried out – but issued a “categorical assurance” that no patients’ health would be put at risk.

Engineers are now being drafted in to assess and fix the damage, including to the robots which have all been given nicknames including Dee and Don.

But the health board has so far been unable to give any indication as to how long this might take or the potential costs involved.

A spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately this will mean delays for patients in the coming days.

“However, we will continue to fill all prescriptions.

“It is important to stress that our main pharmacy stock holding area was unaffected and we still have access to a full range of medicines.

“We can only apologise to patients facing longer waits for their medicines and thank them in advance for their understanding.”

Professor Jamie Weir from NHS Grampian patient group PACT said: “It will lead to an increase in delayed discharges as it will increase the number of patients in beds, making a tight situation even tighter.

“It’s a sad situation that patients are going to be affected and wait longer to get home, which will also affect their carers and family members.

“I feel very sorry for the pharmacy staff as they are going to be under a lot of stress and strain to get the prescriptions out.”

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald added: “Patients will be reassured that they will get the medicines they need, but NHS Grampian must ensure that any delays in dispensing medicines are kept to a minimum.”