Care homes should not have to pay to hold stocks of medicines for residents nearing the end of their lives, according to clinicians working with older people.
Home office license fees are preventing care homes from moving to a simpler system for storing and prescribing medication that would save time and money, according to submissions to a Holyrood inquiry.
They say the current system of ‘just in case’ boxes holding pain and anxiety-relieving medicines for individual residents in their last days of life is creating “considerable wastage from a number of angles”.
Medicines in these boxes cannot be used for anyone else and must be destroyed if they are not used.
In one Scottish care home half the residents had these special supplies and the home was struggling to find space to store the boxes.
Three clinicians responding to the health and sport committee’s inquiry into medicines wastage say moving to a system where care homes hold a single stock of medicine that could be used for different residents would save money and staff time as they have to check each box twice a day.
But care homes have to pay for a Home Office license to do this – a charge the NHS and hospices are exempt from.
The two doctors and a pharmacist who wrote to the committee asked: “why do care homes have to pay for one when their staff are performing the care at the end of life for as many if not more people than hospices?”
Independent care provider umbrella group Scottish Care says the “additional cost…is preventing care homes from introducing such systems and therefore creating additional waste.”