Good governance of medicines

Page last updated: 14 December 2023

All providers need to have effective governance systems to ensure safe and effective care and treatment.

These systems must be able to identify when care is not of a high quality and support improvement.

Good governance in adult social care

Regulation 17 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 states that providers must have effective governance that includes assurance and auditing systems or processes.

These must assess, monitor, and drive improvement in:

  • the quality and safety of the services provided
  • the quality of the experience for people using the service
  • any risk relating to the health, safety and welfare of people using services and others.

Providers must continually evaluate and improve their governance and auditing practice. This includes securely maintaining accurate, complete, and detailed records for:

  • each person using the service
  • the employment of staff
  • the overall management of the regulated activity.

What does good practice relating to good governance of medicines look like?

  • A focus on outcomes for people, for example:
    • gathering people’s views
    • finding out how they are getting on with their medicines and if they are happy with them.
  • A process for sharing outcomes to promote improvement for people.
  • Clear expectations for staff within the medicines policies. 
  • Promoting opportunities to share learning both internally and externally.
  • A regular review of medicines processes with records of any actions required.
  • Systems to ensure that required actions are followed up and completed.

Electronic systems

Most electronic systems in adult social care have features that support quality improvement. It is crucial that care providers know how to take advantage of them to ensure that people get the best out of their medicines.

We will ask you about any system you have implemented to make sure it supports good governance and improvement.

Further resources

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides a range of tools and resources to support good governance:

This advises commissioners, providers, and health and social care practitioners to:

  • review policies, processes and local governance arrangements to make clear who is accountable and responsible for using medicines safely and effectively in care homes
  • review local governance to make clear who is accountable and responsible for providing medicines support
  • make clear who is accountable and responsible for providing medicines support
  • work with all relevant stakeholders to:
    • develop a locally agreed action plan, in line with other local and national strategies and governance arrangements
    • improve the safety of residents 
    • reduce medication errors in care homes.

Local support:

Staff in community pharmacies, medicines optimisation teams in integrated care systems and local authority teams may be able to provide training and education support to care providers or help to complete medicines reviews or medicines audits.

National support:

Some of the national bodies that produce information for adult social care providers are:

Organisations supporting people with specific conditions:

Our guidance: