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18.07.16

Greater national action needed on management of controlled drugs – CQC

Management of controlled drugs in the NHS is generally safe, but needs greater sharing of information to build a better picture, the CQC has said.

The CQC has been required to ensure that all health providers practice safe management of controlled drugs following the fourth report of the Shipman Inquiry.

In its report for 2015, the CQC said that NHS England controlled drug authority officers (CDAOs) need to agree on and collect consistent information on controlled drug-related issues to provide a national picture.

It also said that CDAOs from other organisations should provide information to NHS England CDAOs in a timely way, to help make the work of controlled drug intelligence networks more effective, and that local authorities should raise concerns with intelligence networks relating to social and drug and alcohol services.

During the last year NHS England’s controlled drug area teams reduced in number from 27 to 13, but despite this the CQC found that safe management is being practiced overall.

And despite concerns about the larger areas the teams would now have to handle, the CQC said that in practice, this approach had worked well, and allowed CDAOs to work together more collaboratively and share concerns and good practice.

In total, controlled drug prescriptions decreased by 0.48% compared to 2014, although cost increased by 2.41%.

The CQC also found that controlled drug prescribing by nurses had increased by 12% and prescriptions by pharmacists by 112%.

It said this reflected changes in how drugs are prescribed – for example, increasing use of independent prescribers within primary care. The New NHS Alliance recently recommended a greater role for community pharmacies in providing primary care.

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