Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

How to...ensure good stock control

GPs and their staff order, use, and dispense a wide variety of office, clinical and pharmaceutical items. Good stock control is vital to keep costs down, to ensure good patient care and to prevent mistakes or fraud taking place. Here are the essentials:

GPs and their staff order, use, and dispense a wide variety of office, clinical and pharmaceutical items. Good stock control is vital to keep costs down, to ensure good patient care and to prevent mistakes or fraud taking place. Here are the essentials:

1 Get relevant staff to draw up a list of all the items they use or need and reduce it to the minimum required for safe and efficient working. Ordering and storing non-essentials wastes time, money and space.

2 Decide how much of each type of stock to carry. Too much takes up valuable storage space, ties up capital and may even result in stock going out of date. Too little means you could run out of something vital at the wrong moment, which wastes staff and patient time and could put patients at risk.

3 Draw up an annual budget for each area (drugs, clinical and office consumables, refreshments, cleaning materials). Allocate control to staff who should be competent at making regular price comparisons and finding the best deals, and understand the principle of false economy. Agree a target annual percentage saving and consider introducing an incentive scheme for savings.

4 Insist items are kept in one specified place; count and sign each item in and out as they are received and used.

5 Standardise consulting room consumables and the contents of doctors' emergency bags; ask the practice nurse to monitor stocks and use-by dates for these and the drug cupboard. Follow regulations if you store controlled drugs.

6 The stock ledger (book or computerised) should contain batch numbers and other details if product liability may be an issue. These details should be entered on to the clinical record if administered to patients.

7 Do an annual stock take and valuation – the accountant will need this for the practice accounts but it will also show whether ordering policies are maximally efficient.

8 Discuss forming purchasing consortia with other practices; larger orders may attract a discount.

9 Monitor accounts with pharmacists, vaccine companies and other suppliers.

10 Put physical security measures in place to prevent theft by patients and casual visitors.

Dr Melanie Wynne-Jones is a GP in Marple, Cheshire

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say