Sainsbury’s has today started a trial of prescription vending machines, aimed at allowing customers to securely and conveniently collect NHS prescriptions.

The first two pilots will be in shops in Sussex in Haywards Heath and West Green.

The machines, made by Asteres, are offered alongside Sainsbury’s existing in-store pharmacy service if shoppers want to speak to a pharmacist.

Each machine can hold up to 450 packs of medicines and each pack has a barcode so the machine can identify it. Customers using the service must register and create a unique ID and PIN code. A pharmacist checks the medication has been properly prescribed before placing it in the machine, along with the information on how the medication should be taken.

Customers can also collect the whole family’s prescriptions.

Sainsbury’s professional services manager, David Gilder said: “The vending machines provide a secure and convenient way for customers to obtain prescribed medication at a time that suits them. 

“At the same time we also know that our customers value the option of speaking to a pharmacist so this is an additional service for customers who may prefer it. We will evaluate feedback from customers and our instore pharmacists before taking a decision on whether to roll them out to more stores.”

Sainsbury’s has 236 in-store pharmacies.