A NEW Boots pharmacy is to open in Southend Hospital.

The hospital, in Prittlewell Chase, has announced plans to follow Basildon Hospital in signing up the pharmacy chain.

The Boots shop will work alongside the existing hospital pharmacy, and will be open to outpatients and visitors.

The hospital says Boots will offer shorter waiting times for patients, as medication will be handed over more quickly.

Stuart Chandler, principal pharmacist at the hospital, said: “It’s an exciting development which will benefit inpatients and outpatients.

“It will enable specialised pharmacy staff to be freed up to focus on providing a superior pharmacy service for those staying in hospital.

“And for outpatients, it will mean less time waiting for their medication, which will mean a shorter visit when they have to come to hospital for their appointments.”

The new pharmacy will be built next to the main reception area of the hospital.

A planning application for an extension to the main tower block building has been submitted to Southend Council. The hospital’s current pharmacy mainly dispenses medicine for patients staying at the hospital.

Last year, Basildon Hospital signed a deal with Boots to open a pharmacy by its main entrance.

The trust also claimed it would speed up the process for outpatients needing to pick up prescriptions, after some had complained about long delays in using the hospital pharmacy.

Mr Chandler added: “The running of the community pharmacy has been awarded to Boots, which opened a similar service at Basildon and Thurrock Hospital last year.”

The NHS nationally is encouraging more people to think about turn to pharmacies for minor illnesses, rather than automatically turning to their GP or A&E departments.