Our annual update on the safe management and use of controlled drugs

Page last updated: 5 July 2022

CQC’s annual update on the safe management and use of controlled drugs draws on prescribing data, feedback from controlled drug local intelligence networks, and our wider inspection and regulatory work.

The report shares important insight on the use of controlled drugs in health care and adult social care services, to help people working with controlled drugs strengthen the arrangements for their safe management and use.

In the last year, we have heard of innovative work and good practice being shared by local intelligence networks, as well as a notable rise in non-medical prescribing for all professional groups. We also note that the shift towards integration of local health and care services presents an opportunity for the development of more effective oversight of controlled drugs across a wider range of providers and stakeholders in a locality.

However, there are still some key concerns, for example:

  • poor governance of controlled drugs – relating to issues such as balance checks, incident reporting and secure storage
  • shared care between independent and NHS providers – including the safe and effective monitoring of people and their medicines

In our recommendations, we encourage providers and commissioners to use the available data sources and tools to better understand prescribing risks and trends with controlled drugs in their local area. Once these those risks and issues are identified, local collaboration can help to create action plans and interventions to promote safer care for people.