NHS Scotland and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland have launched best practice standards for the management of medicines shortages in secondary care.
The jointly developed standards provide guidance to NHS hospitals around the management of drug shortages at a local level and aim to minimise risks to patients caused by treatment delays.
The guidance outlines four guiding principles, including collaborative working, to ensure that medicines in short supply are used for the patients with the greatest clinical need and that no action is taken that could exacerbate a shortage for the wider NHS. The document also lists 13 standards covering policy, risk assessment and internal processes. A key recommendation is ensuring that when a medicine is in short supply, only the volume of medicines required to meet normal demand should be ordered to avoid exacerbating the shortage. The standards also state that the director of pharmacy in each health board is responsible for ensuring that there are strategies, procedures and sufficient staff in place for effective management of medicines shortages.
Roisin Kavanagh, lead pharmacist University Hospital Crosshouse and co-chair of the working group that supported the development of the standards, comments: “A range of staff within health boards need to be involved in the management of shortages including pharmacy, medical and nursing staff; this guidance provides best practice advice on the management of shortages by multidisciplinary teams and promotes collaborative working across NHS Scotland to minimise the impact of shortages on patient care.”
John McAnaw, chair of the RPS Scottish Pharmacy Board, says: “The RPS in Scotland will continue to engage with medical and nursing professional bodies and organisations to ensure these best practice standards are shared across our professions and help underpin collaborative working at all levels.”