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Doctors ‘still taking controlled drugs without permission’

20 August 2014

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More should be done to improve information sharing around controlled drugs concerns, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has warned. 

The annual report into the management of controlled drugs, warned that although significant progress has been made since the Shipman inquiry ten years ago, more should be done. 

Following the case of Dr Harold Shipman, who killed patients through deliberate use of drugs ten years ago, the inquiry called for tighter controls over the use and possession of controlled drugs. 

New governance arrangements were introduced in 2007, which included the appointment of controlled drugs accountable officers (CDAOs) within healthcare settings, who are responsible for monitoring controlled drugs across local communities.  

In addition, Controlled Drugs Local Intelligence Networks were set up specifically for the reporting of controlled drug concerns.

Health care professionals are being urged to raise any concerns about misuse of controlled drugs. 

CQC chief inspector of primary care, Professor Steve Field, said: “We are still seeing examples of a very small number of healthcare professionals taking controlled drugs without permission and supplying them to other illegally or taking them in order to misuse substances themselves. 

“At CQC we will continue to support the sharing of information more widely, by ensuring that relevant concerns around medicines management that arise as part of our inspections, as well as key information from relevant meetings, is flagged up with NHS England, CDAOs and intelligence networks.” 

Clare Howard, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer and co-chair of the NHS England National Controlled Drugs Group said: “Controlled drug accountable officers have worked very hard over the last year to ensure that robust local systems are in place for the safer management and use of controlled drugs. 

“We are confident that further progress will be made in the next year to ensure that arrangements across the country are working well and consistently.”