CQC releases report on controlled drugs

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Last week the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its fourth annual report on the safer management of controlled drugs regulations.

The Controlled Drugs (Supervision of Management and Use) Regulations 2006 were introduced in January 2007, placing responsibilities on organisations to make robust arrangements for the safe handling of controlled drugs and also to investigate all reported concerns and share these findings with others. These regulations were introduced in response to the Shipman Inquiry.

The latest report, released yesterday, illustrates that there has been progress, with many instances of good innovative practice in the management of and sharing of concerns of controlled drugs. The CQC highlights that it is important that steps are taken to ensure this progress is maintained and the benefits of effective partnership working are not lost during the changes under way in primary care trusts (PCTs).

The CQC went on to make the following recommendations.

  • Chief executives and accountable officers should continue to keep the safe management of controlled drugs a high priority on their organisation’s agenda during the reorganisation of the NHS to ensure that the gains in safety made over the past four years are not lost.
  • Chief executives and accountable officers should ensure that Controlled Drugs Local Intelligence Networks (CD LINs) have robust working arrangements and are fit for purpose and adequately prepared for the transition.
  • Non-designated bodies should also be encouraged to participate more in the information-sharing process to ensure that intelligence-gathering is thorough and complete, capturing information from all sources.
  • All professionals and providers of care, whether practising in the NHS or independent sector, should take account of best practice guidance that is published by relevant professional bodies and agencies, and all sectors should be made aware of the document, ‘Drug Misuse and dependence: UK guidelines on clinical management’, and that it applies across all sectors.

Cynthia Bower, CQC’s chief executive, said: “We all know that the NHS is going though a period of change at the moment, however it is vital that the excellent work carried out by health services demonstrated in this report isn’t neglected during this time of change.

“The regulations require relevant health care organisations to have an accountable officer who is responsible for monitoring controlled drugs. They also require providers, regulatory bodies and agencies to share information and investigate serious concerns and I would urge all health care providers to maintain focus on this important area.”