The CQC have called for ‘vigilance’ around the prescription of controlled drugs, after their report revealed the number of controlled drugs prescribed in primary care rose by 1% last year.
The regulator revealed that the total number of controlled drugs items prescribed in NHS primary care in 2012 was 47,308,286, an increase of 1% compared with 2011, the report said. It added that the cost of this was £452,763,739, an increase of 2% compared to £443,380,585 in 2011.
CQC chief executive Mr David Behan noted the importance of heightened vigilance around the governance of controlled drugs and announced that the CQC would be including practices’ governance arrangements around controlled drugs as part of their inspections.
The report said: ‘In 2012, the total number of controlled drugs items prescribed in NHS primary care was 47,308,286, which is an increase of 1% compared with 2011.
‘Local controlled drugs accountable officer (CDAOs), clinical commissioning groups and controlled drugs leads must be mindful of their continuing responsibilities for good governance and safe use of controlled drugs to ensure on-going monitoring and vigilance.’
The report showed a steady fall in prescriptions of temazepam since 2007, yet a rise in the use of buprenorphine, morphine sulphate, oxycodone, fentanyl, midazolam and diamorphine.
It also showed an increase in prescribing of methylphenidate, in both private and NHS sectors. The report said this should be regulated carefully because of the effects caused by its misuse.
Commenting on the release of the report, CQC chief executive Mr Behan said: ‘As new systems and processes bed in across the NHS it is vital that vigilance is maintained to ensure the safety of patients.
‘We’re greatly encouraged by the progress made over the last six years by provider organisations in improving and embedding the systems and processes necessary to ensure controlled drugs are managed safely.
‘It is important and absolutely correct that CQC looks at the governance arrangements for controlled drugs in primary medical services now we are the regulator for these services.’