HubRx has revealed plans for a multi-million pound investment in an advanced automated pharmacy facility in Yorkshire – being developed for use by independent community pharmacies across the country.

Led by a team with decades of experience in pharmacy and digital healthcare, HubRx is a newly formed company, creating the UK’s first automated dispensing hub purpose built for independently owned community pharmacies. The 40,000 sq. ft facility is set to create 100 new jobs and will be able to dispense up to one million prescription items each month.

The announcement comes ahead of legislation changes for the pharmacy industry due next year, which will allow independent pharmacies to work with HubRx to introduce ‘hub and spoke’ automated dispensing capabilities.

By reducing the workload of repeat prescription dispensing, it will give independent community pharmacists more time to extend their clinical role to patients as part of the NHS long term plan. Pharmacies will be able to digitally send prescriptions to HubRx for automated dispensing and delivery to the community pharmacy for collection by the patient.

CEO of HubRx is Daniel Lee, a qualified pharmacist who worked in his family’s independent pharmacy business in Leeds before founding the UK’s largest NHS pharmacy, Pharmacy2U, which he stepped down from in 2019. He is joined at HubRx by Chairman Sean Riddell, who is the former CEO of EMIS Group plc and led its highly successful flotation on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM).

Daniel said: “For the first time ever, due to new legislation currently going through parliament, the UK’s 4,461 independents will be able to realise the time-saving benefits of automated dispensing and create a level playing field with the big multiple pharmacies already benefitting from this. We’re working closely with independent pharmacy owners to develop a unique ‘hub and spoke’ model ready for this.

“In a post-COVID world, pharmacists will expect the significant clinical and advisory role they have played during this crisis to continue – and so will their patients. Our hub will give pharmacies the option to outsource up to 70% of their dispensing workload, freeing them up to expand their clinical service role in the community. It is designed to support the transformation of independents as they adapt to the new Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework – and ensure that the patient relationship remains with the local pharmacy.”

The move comes as local pharmacies have taken on an expanded role in the community during the coronavirus outbreak. As GP surgeries struggled to stay open and cope with the wave of coronavirus infections, many pharmacists have become the first port of call for worried patients seeking trusted health advice – while also coping with a huge increase in prescriptions.

HubRx has signed a commercial agreement with Clanwilliam Health who provide RxWeb PMR system, the UK’s only web-based Patient Medical Record (PMR) system. Currently used by over 1800 pharmacies across the UK, RxWeb’s system flexibility and advanced functionality made it a natural fit for HubRx. Both systems will be integrated to create processes that facilitate the safe and seamless transfer of prescriptions to the hub and then delivery back to the pharmacy.

Joining HubRx as a non-executive director is Mike Hewitson. A staunch defender of independent pharmacy, he was a leading member of the National Pharmacy Association board for eight years, and a board member of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee for three.

He said: “A service like HubRx would have helped independent community pharmacy tremendously during this pandemic, and it will be badly needed long after the outbreak is over. The presence and reliability of local pharmacies has been vital for patients in these last few months. HubRx will help by filling prescriptions reliably and safely while releasing us to take on more of the clinical role we have been trained for.”

The facility will be designed with real-time stock information and support the highest clinical accuracy and safety standards. It will use the latest software to drive operational efficiency within the pharmacy.