A record should be kept for police inspection
I have been reflecting upon Cathal Gallagher’s article on the Shipman Inquiry (PJ, 1 July, pp13–16) and I am amazed that, after such a prolonged enquiry at an exorbitant cost (£23m), it “has failed to close the loopholes in the regulation of Controlled Drugs used by Shipman”. Having identified the poor result of this inquiry I planned to act by contributing some thoughts on the matter.
Since it is “unlawful for any person to be in possession of Controlled Drugs other than those in Schedule 5 unless authorised to do so (Medicines, Ethics and Practice 30, 2006), which includes those of Schedule 2 that were used by Shipman, then it is apparent that possession is a legal matter. It should involve, therefore, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
In my early days as a pharmacist I recall receiving visits from police inspectors in the local constabulary who would inspect the DDA (now CD) register. If all individuals who are authorised, either specifically by the Home Office or by a blanket authorisation as a member of a specified class, eg, doctors, pharmacists, etc, to be in possession of Schedule 2 CDs were required to keep and provide, for police inspection, written or computerised records of purchases and of sales or supply of all Schedule 2 drugs, as pharmacists are required to do at present, then the loopholes could be closed to any physician contemplating a Shipman episode. Where nurses or doctors administer Schedule 2 CDs, a record of the patient’s name and address, date of administration and dose given should also be kept. All these records should be transmitted to a specified police station at regular intervals (eg, monthly) where they could be correlated and any discrepancies investigated immediately.
All Schedule 2 CDs that are no longer required by a patient or authorised individual should be returned to the pharmacy from which they were obtained, ie, only pharmacists should dispose of Schedule 2 CDs.
As computer software becomes ever more sophisticated it might be possible to design a program that not only records the purchase and sale or supply of Schedule 2 CDs in the patient’s record but also enters the required data into a separate spread sheet that could act as the “CD register” and be available for transmission to the local specified police station. Having recorded these thoughts I look forward to being able to evaluate the response of the Council of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to these suggestions.
Ballygowan, County Down
Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10002587
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