Care Quality Commission
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Controlled drug annual update 2022

Our report on the safer management of controlled drugs highlights the key findings from our regulatory activity in 2022. 

The Controlled drugs regulations give CQC responsibilities and oversight for the safe management and use of controlled drugs in England. We do this as part of our regulation of health and adult social care services. We also attend NHS England controlled drugs local intelligence networks across the country to gather information about current risks and good practice. 

Key concerns in 2022 were around: 

  • ineffective governance arrangements for controlled drugs in health and care services 
  • diversion of controlled drugs, by both non-registered staff as well as health and care professionals 
  • the need for services to factor in the timescales required to obtain a controlled drugs licence from the Home Office  

The report also includes an analysis of prescribing data and highlights trends in primary care during 2022 compared with the previous year:  

  • In NHS services, total controlled drug items prescribed by NHS primary care services had a small increase of less than 0.5%. Whereas total controlled drug items prescribed privately across independent primary care services increased by 71%, with Schedule 2 controlled drugs accounting for 94% of these. 
  • Prescribing volumes of medicines that are licensed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as dexamfetamine, lisdexamfetamine and methylphenidate increased in both NHS and independent prescribing. 
  • There was an increase in non-medical prescribing overall, with pharmacists now undertaking just over half of this. 

A key recommendation to drive improvement in the safer management of controlled drugs involves working collaboratively in local systems. This improves how controlled drugs are prescribed, managed and monitored as better collaboration and partnership working can result in better outcomes for people. 

The safer management of controlled drugs: Annual update 2022

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