Benchmarking the current dispensing rate of Welsh hospital pharmacies

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There is a need to develop capacity measures for pharmacy services for strategic purposes, to provide guidance on safe working limits and to contribute to the target 40% reduction in serious medication errors by 2005. Attempts have been made to quantify workloads in the form of items/person/hour (i/p/h). However, much of these data are anecdotal, small scale or associated with vague methodology.


We estimate national average dispensing rates by collecting accurate data from secondary care dispensaries across Wales.


Seventeen sites collected hourly data relating to staff time and items dispensed over a 3-day period. The result showed a Welsh national average for non-specialist hospital pharmacy dispensing rates of 9·9 items/person/h (95% CI = 0·9, n = 17). There was a significant positive association between hospital size and telephone interruptions (rs = 0·83, P < 0·001) but no correlation between hospital size and dispensing rates (rs = 0·06, P = 0·822).

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