Want to watch this video? Sign up for the course here. Or enter your email below to watch one free video.

Unlock This Video Now for FREE

This video is normally available to paying customers.
You may unlock this video for FREE. Enter your email address for instant access AND to receive ongoing updates and special discounts related to this topic.

There is legislation in place to safeguard the storage and availability of all drugs.  These include the Medicines Act 1968 and The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  Drugs are categorised into different groups:

  • Prescription only medicines (POM)
  • Pharmacy only medications
  • General sales medications
  • Unlicensed medications

Prescription only medications can be prescribed by a Doctor, Dentist, Vet or Nurse Prescriber.

There is a carefully planned framework surrounding legislation in the care home setting; this also includes homes and domiciliary care. The Medicines Act 1968, the first legislation on medications in the United Kingdom. This provides a legal framework for manufacturing, licensing prescriptions supply and administration of medication. It classifies medication into different categories.

These are as follows. You have your prescription only medication. These are medications which have to be authorized by a doctor, vet, dentist or a nurse prescriber. The pharmacist is the expert on all aspects of medication, including legislation, and they can be consulted at any time. You then have your pharmacy only medication. This is a medication that can be purchased from a pharmacy and the pharmacist has to be present. You then have your general sales medication. This is a medication that could be purchased anywhere, and no pharmacist has to be present. This would include paracetamol, ibuprofen, various cough medicines.

We then have our unlicensed medications. These are medications which do not have a license for the use in which they are being prescribed for. The doctor or dentist takes liability for any harm that may be caused when this medication is administered. The manufacturer will accept no liability. The doctor or dentist will only prescribe if they feel that the benefits far outweigh any risks. In addition, when dealing with unlicensed medication, although they have been prescribed by a doctor, you should ensure that you have sufficient information to give the medication. If you are unsure at any time always speak with your manager, you can always speak to the pharmacist or check with the GP.

We are now going to look at the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1971. This is designed to check and reduce the unlawful use of the kinds of drugs that could cause dependence. It gives the definition of controlled drugs. So, this would be cocaine, heroin, methadone, amphetamine, opium, morphine. Controlled drugs can only be prescribed by a medical practitioner or registered dentist. Every GP or dentist is required to keep a record of all controlled drugs which are used. Regulations that govern the administration of controlled drugs say that the prescription must be in ink, the prescription must be signed and dated by a prescriber. A prescription must specify the dose to be taken and the prescription must specify the form, strength and quantity of units.

So, when we look at storing our controlled drugs, we have our normal locked cupboard for our everyday medication. Inside that cupboard will be a separate locked unit, which is where the controlled drugs are stored. When dispensing controlled drugs, two people have to give these. One person giving and a second as a witness. This will be a separate book, which will be stored in the controlled drugs cupboard. Stock control of controlled drugs needs to be checked every seven days.

We then have the Prescription by Nurses Act, 1992. With extra training, nurses can go on and prescribe. There is only a limited number of drugs that they can prescribe, and they are all found in a nurse's formulary.

We then have the Care Standards Act, 2000. This sets out the minimum standards for all aspects of care. The main standards relating to medication are medication within the home, domiciliary care. To comply with the Care Standards, Act, 2000, staff administering medications must have received appropriate training that must include basic knowledge of how medicines are used and how to recognize and deal with problems in use, and the principles behind all aspects of the home's policy on medicine handling and records.

Administration of medication needs to be carried out by a designated member of staff. They need to have a basic understanding of the medication they are giving out. Usually, within the care home setting, a second person is a witness when giving out medication.