A joint statement has been released to raise awareness of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on aspects of the handling of controlled drugs in Northern Ireland. It has come to light that staff have been found to have been involved in the ‘theft and/or unlawful possession’ of controlled drugs’.
The statement was issued by the Pharmacy Forum (NI), the Association of Pharmacy Technicians (UK), the British Medical Association (NI), the Royal College of Nurses and the Royal College of Midwives.
The joint statement reads as follows;
“Possession and supply of all Controlled Drugs, from Schedule 2 (e.g. diamorphine) to Schedule 5 (e.g. co-codamol) are governed by Misuse of Drugs legislation. All organisations are required to investigate or support an investigation of any alleged breach of this legislation, and forward referral to Police Service of Northern Ireland and/or professional regulatory body as appropriate
“It is recognised that a proportion of the public (including those that provide health and social care services) will suffer from mental health issues. Inter-related to this may be the misuse of substances and/or addiction. All health and social care staff have access to confidential counselling services through their employer or their professional bodies and should be encouraged to seek help at the earliest possible time. Furthermore, if there is a concern about a fellow member of staff, everyone is duty bound to raise that concern as appropriate as soon as possible in order to protect the health and well-being of patients and of the member of staff.
“Professional representative bodies provide support to their members ranging from professional guidance and training through to individual confidential support. Professionals are encouraged to contact their professional representative body should they require any help from the management and use of Controlled Drugs.
“It has been evident that through the work of the Controlled Drugs Local Intelligence Network (LIN) in Northern Ireland that cases have emerged whereby staff have been involved in the theft and/or unlawful possession and use of Controlled Drugs. Investigation of such cases has produced sufficient evidence to lead to criminal prosecution and/or professional regulatory action. It has also been evident that the majority of offences include Schedule 3 to 5 Controlled Drugs.
“The Controlled Drugs Local Intelligence Network (LIN) has highlighted the need for raising awareness of:
- The implications of controlled drugs governance arrangements with all staff.
- The need to recognise underlying mental health or addiction issues in staff and encourage earlier intervention to reduce the risk of actions leading to professional or criminal admonishment.
“All organisations that handle Controlled Drugs are required to have sufficient governance arrangements in place to reduce the risk of diversion and ensure the appropriate use of Controlled Drugs. This will include a range of measures such as stock control, monitoring and audit. Where there are suspicions of diversion/theft, organisations are duty bound to investigate the matter and liaise with the relevant authority bodies.”
Read the full joint statement HERE.