A STATE-OF-THE-ART pharmacy featuring an advanced robot which dispenses medicine has opened following a five-year campaign.

The pharmacy has thrown open its doors to patients of Abbey Field Medical Centre.

Patients say the facility, run by Wellbeing Pharmacy, is much-needed ever since Mersea Road surgery closed.

Claire Langan, pharmacy manager, said: “This pharmacy makes the surgery a one stop shop for patients.

“The new robot dispensing system makes this the only community pharmacy in the country that has one.

“It just shows the huge investment that has been made.

“This is an independent company with only eight pharmacies in the country.

“The prescription system talks to the robot, which keeps everything stored in terms of drugs.

“It really is our pride and joy.

“This is a hugely busy surgery with lots of patients and we must have the right resources in place to serve them.

“We have the best of the best. We will have great contact with the GPs and hopefully improve their service as well by working closely with them.”

Dave Harris, borough councillor, said he had campaigned with the patient forum at the surgery to see a pharmacy opened at the site.

He said: “A group of patients had been talking to doctors and the practice manager about this for some time.

“The first point is that this is now a one stop shop.

“Now patients do not have to go from the surgery to town, or another pharmacy, to pick up their prescription.

“Secondly, because of the national shortage of doctors, we were adamant the pharmacy have a consultant room, where if patients can’t get an appointment they can have a word and get advice from there.”

A private bus service already runs to and from the surgery, ensuring patients who cannot drive will still be able to reach their appointments on time.

Two St John’s Green Primary School youngsters won a competition to name the state-of-the-art robot, choosing Dr Ugs in honour of its new position.

Together with manager Mrs Langan, the pharmacy employs an assistant manager, two dispensers and a pharmacy student.

Mrs Langan said: “We want to treat this as a training centre for students as well.

“I am hugely excited to be starting here, I feel we have a worthwhile job to do.”

Gerard Oxford, Colchester mayor, was on hand to cut the ribbon to officially open the new pharmacy.

He said: “I think this pharmacy is absolutely brilliant, the company is a leading light with the technology they bring.

“The catchment area is quite large, so it is important to have top-class facilities - which includes a remarkable robot that selects and checks medication.”