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Robot service to operate at Dalneigh Pharmacy in Inverness


By Alasdair Fraser

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Dalneigh Pharmacy, where the robot service will operate. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Dalneigh Pharmacy, where the robot service will operate. Picture: Gary Anthony.

An Inverness pharmacy is to be allowed create a 24-hour “pharma robot” service at its front door, despite the plan stirring local hostility.

Dalneigh Pharmacy’s owners have gained planning permission to redesign its street-side entrance in Laurel Avenue and install a “pharmaself robot” dispensing technology for collecting prescriptions.

But the independent community pharmacy’s planning application drew opposition from some nearby residents who feared the ATM-style device would be the catalyst for some antisocial behaviour.

In a letter of opposition, neighbour Katarzyna Adamska-Paterson said: “The robot will be less than two metres away from the front door and where social-distancing is required, this may put our family at risk.

“Queues might be forming in front of our door, which can cause inconvenience and, in certain cases, lead to people becoming frustrated and causing acts of vandalism and noise.”

Mrs Adamska-Paterson also suggested installing the robot on the other side of the pharmacy and called for a 24-hour CCTV system to monitor its use.

Another Laurel Avenue neighbour, Laura Patience, wrote: “I do not want an ATM beside my house. None of the neighbours are happy about this.

“There could be people coming at all times and could encourage undesirables at my front door. It is far too close.”

However, the application was approved under planning officials’ delegated powers.

In a Highland Council report of handling, the pharmacy’s applicant James Higgins responded to concerns stating: “We considered other possible placing options for the pharmaself, but after careful consideration we believe that the position shown on our submission is best.

“The proposed siting allows the maximum distance possible between the pharmaself and both the shop entrance and the entrance to the flats above.

“[It] enables us to retain a viable front shop and indoor patient waiting area for vulnerable patients.”

He noted that the distance between the robot and the resident’s front door exceeded two metres, while similar sites across Scotland’s saw the “vast majority” of collections made during working hours.

He added: “There is no reason to believe that proposal would attract undesirables as it can only be accessed by those with a prescription who have been registered on each occasion.”

The pharmacy is proposing to install CCTV and security alarms.

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