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First prescription pick up machine installed in the South Hams

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First prescription pick up machine installed in the South Hams

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The first prescription pick up machine in the South Hams has been installed in Chillington. 

Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall attended the opening, which was expertly catered by Sticky Fingers, and unveiled an official plaque from behind an Exeter Chiefs flag  - what else would you use when you can't find a velvet curtain? 

The project to install the prescription pick up machine at Chillington Health Centre was the brain child of Dr Mark Mordue and was funded by the Start Circle of Friends. 

Watch the unveiling here: 

Dr Mordue, senior partner at Chillington Health Centre and dispensary lead, explained that the machine is available 24/7 and will allow people to pick up prescriptions at any time with just a six-digit code that will be sent to the patient via SMS. Those who want to will be able to pick up their prescription can still do so from the dispensary in the usual way.  

He said that during the pandemic, prescriptions were dispensed through the window of the health centre, the storage of the prescriptions became challenged and dispensers became harder to recruit. He also said the dispensary was under threat from online pharmacies "pinching our patients". 

Dr Mordue first saw the Pharmaself24 at a Dispensing Doctors' Association seminar and with the possibility of future pandemics, it seemed to be the "perfect solution". 

He told those gathered for the official opening that "we are delighted and extremely grateful" that SCOF agreed to fund the entire cost. Small rural GP surgeries often have a dispensary and are often vital to their community. He said it wasn't unusual for members of staff, including GPS to drop prescriptions to frail or housebound patients on their way home. 

"We want to guarantee they can continue to serve the community for the coming decades."

Barbara Gaye, SCOF, and Antony Mangnall MP unveiling the plaque to officially open the new dispensary machine

Barbara Gaye, one of the founding members of Start Circle of Friends (SCOF), made a speech to help unveil "Chillington's own AI". She said SCOF raise their funds through jumble sales, fairs and fates, sponsored dog walks and has always been "by local people for local people".

She said the Pharmaself24 was the "most technical and advanced pieces of equipment purchased so far by SCOF". 

Anthony Mangnall MP said: "It is absolutely essential in this day and age that we find the right way we can roll out rural healthcare and this is a perfect example. SCOF's work in helping to funding this is excellent and Chillington is now one of the most modern villages in South Devon, setting example for the rest of the area, and I hope we see more come in.

"A fantastic sight to see these machines being installed, which I hope is well used by community."

Mr Mangnall then used the machine, using a six-digit code to open a door to find a mug that the health centre gifted to him. 

Anthony Mangnall MP gets his mug from the new dispensary machine 

The project has taken about two years to complete and SCOF funded the purchase of the machine, while the planning permission and building work was funded by the practice. 

SCOF was founded in 1992 to benefit all the patients of the Chillington Health Centre. All registered patients are de facto members.

Initially, the object of the charity was to provide medical and other equipment for the newly established practice. In 1996 the constitution was amended to include the Patient Transport Service to address the difficulties encountered by patients in the rural practice attending medical appointments. 

Prior to Covid, the Patient Transport Service provided transport to approximately 400 appointments a year, to a variety of medical facilities, including hospitals and dentists. Post-Covid, it has not yet returned to the level of service due to a shortage of volunteer drivers, but they are hopeful that more will come forward and their can increase their numbers. 

If you or someone you know might be interested in becoming a volunteer driver or companion, please contact Lynne Bentley or Cheryl Watkins at the SCOF office on 01548 581181 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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