Legislation and policy regarding the use of controlled drugs.
Controlled drugs are drugs which are liable to abuse and misuse and are controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and misuse of drugs regulations.
This information should be read in conjunction with:
Nurses and midwives will need to refer to local and national policies in the safe and effective management of controlled drugs and apply the legal requirements.
The Home Office is the government department responsible for licensing and regulation of controlled drugs under misuse of drugs regulations in England, Scotland and Wales.
In Northern Ireland it is the Department of Health, Social Science and Public Safety (Northern Ireland) who have responsibility for controlled drugs.
Changes to the misuse of drugs regulations were implemented in Spring 2012. They remove some previous restrictions relating to independent prescribing of controlled drugs, mixing of controlled drugs prior to administration, and patient group directions.
They allow nurse and pharmacist independent prescribers to prescribe all controlled drugs listed in schedules 2 to 5 within their competence, except cocaine, diamorphine and dipipanone for the treatment of addiction.
The NICE Medicines and Prescribing Centre provide resources which aim to support healthcare professionals and organisations in the safe and effective use of controlled drugs, and include links to policy guidance in the four UK countries. It is a legal requirement that all healthcare organisations are accountable through the controlled drugs accountable officer who is appointed to ensure compliance with misuse of drugs regulations within their organisations and within services they contract.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) published their fifth annual report on safer management of controlled drugs in July 2012.
Under statutory arrangements introduced as a result of the Shipman inquiry, the CQC is responsible for assuring that all providers of health and social care and regulatory bodies and agencies work together to create a safe environment for the management of controlled drugs.
Recommendations in the report included the need for organisations to notify the CQC when the controlled drugs accountable officer changes; for the officers to have systems in place to assure the safe prescribing and administration of controlled drugs in all possible situations and the need to encourage the use of the Controlled Drug Requisition Form (FP10 CDF) more actively.
Further information about policy matters and the role of the accountable officer is also available from each of the four UK country government health departments and The British National Formulary.
This information was produced in May 2012.
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