Specialised NHS Vending Machine Solutions

Apart from the obvious and conventional benefits of locating vending machines within a health service setting, eg to provide refreshments for patients, or visitors in the waiting room, it is becoming apparent that specialised vending machine solutions have a significant role to play where a controlled environment is important for delivering products and medical supplies to nursing and other health practitioners.

In most busy hospital environments, for example, it is difficult to keep track of certain items in frequent use. Some of these items have significant value, and provide a temptation for pilfering, or mis-allocation to the wrong department. The cost of items going 'missing' on a routine basis can add up to a significant cost for the NHS. Providing such items via a machine, which can monitor and track usage can dramatically reduce wastage and ensure items are issued to the correct department or member of staff. In such instances, the vending mechanism operates as normal, and on free vend, but sophisticated electronics allow each staff member to access the appropriate item via card, fob or biometrics, and this is allocated to their appropriate ID. A record and audit trail is provided which shows who obtained what and when, and also provides data regarding stock levels within the machine at any one time. Restrictions can also be enforced via the system to avoid items being issued/vended to the incorrect members of staff.

The above system works particularly well with protective equipment or clothing, and provides evidence for management staff that appropriate health and safety requirements are being followed. In one health setting, Intelligent Vending was asked to source a machine that would supply slippers for elderly people on the ward. This was seen as a highly cost effective means of reducing the number of slips and falls which are consistently a major (and expensive) problem for the NHS. In other examples, we have looked at nicotine replacement products, surgical equipment (including prosthetic components) and the provision of medicines that need to be stored at a constant temperature.

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