Standards for the management of medicines shortages in secondary care launched

Best practice standards for the management of medicines shortages in secondary care in Scotland have been jointly developed by NHS Scotland and the RPS in Scotland.

The standards provide advice to NHS hospitals in managing medicines shortages at local level to minimise any risks to patients through delays to treatment.

It outlines four guiding principles, including collaborative working, to ensure that medicines in short supply are used for the patients with the greatest clinical need.


The document also outlines 13 specific standards on policy, risk assessment and internal processes that should be addressed in order to minimise the effect of medicines shortages on patients. 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.


Roisin Kavanagh, Lead Pharmacist University Hospital Crosshouse and Co-Chair of the Short-Life Working Group that supported the development of the standards commented: “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.”


Dr John McAnaw, Chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board, said: “I am delighted the RPS in Scotland has collaborated with NHS Scotland to jointly develop these best practice standards to minimise the impact of shortages on patients and our NHS. 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.”

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