BIG Rab the Robot is making himself at home.

Earlier this year The Evening Times reported that Mackie's Pharmacy in Cardonald was to install a new robotic pharmacist called Big Rab, who was to cut waits for patients and improve customer care.

The machine was one of the first of its kind to arrive in the city. Almost 70 per cent of community pharmacies in Denmark use automated dispensing technology, while in the rest of mainland Europe the figure stands at 30-40 per cent, but the evidence of their advantages are extremely high.

Three months after he arrived, Mackie's Pharmacy is a hive of activity. How has Big Rab improved the lives of those living in Cardonald?

"Service is so much quicker, and it frees up time for the staff to spend with the patients" said John-Paul Mackie, Managing Director of Mackie's Pharmacy.

"Because of Big Rab, our patients can come in and get a prescription in less than five minutes, or get medication - a flu jab, a consultant with a pharmacist, antibiotics. We can actually spend more time now with people and talk them through things like Nicotine Replacement Therapy and other options.

"Unfortunately, as the population ages and the baby boomers hit, we have a shortage of doctors. But I actually think that it will improve the health of people in the area".

Big Rab cost John-Paul £180,000, but he believes that it is money that it will make itself back.

The machine can sort prescription drug stock and put it away on shelves as well as checking dates, as well as pick stock when the prescription bar code is scanned and performs an additional date and accuracy check in addition to those carried out by staff.

"About 70% of our time has been freed up now" said Scott Conlon, Mackie's Pharmacy Manager.

The 26-year-old from Bearsden has worked in Mackie's for three years, so has seen life at the Pharmacy before and after Big Rab.

"It's definitely made our lives so much more efficient. We get patients in the door and out the door so much quicker, and I think it makes people happier as well - no one likes to wait, and everyone wants everything yesterday.

"The robot has taken the pressure off me, because it's accuracy checks are amazing."

"I definitely think that the robots will be the future of pharmacies in Scotland, eventually. We have doubled the patients we can help without cutting any of the staff - in fact, we've got more staff now because we have to stay on top of it.

"Kids just absolutely love it, there is a real novelty of loving it. People are happy to sit and watch it, they can't believe how fast it moves, actually. It definitely draws people in."