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Header image for the current page Pharmaceutical Support for NHS England CDAO

Pharmaceutical Support for NHS England CDAO

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NHS Arden & GEM CSU supports the Controlled Drug Accountable Officer (CDAO) for the NHS England Area Team in Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

This service ensures that the CDAO can be confident in their responsibility for safe management of controlled drugs, supported by a committed and knowledgeable team.

The challenge

Following the structural changes brought about the Health and Social Care Act, responsibility for the Accountable Officer function for controlled drugs moved to the NHS England Area Teams in April 2013. 

The CDAO is responsible for establishing, operating and reviewing arrangements for the safe management and use of controlled drugs.

As a new responsibility within a new organisation, a range of support was required within Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. 

Our approach

The Arden & GEM CSU Prescribing and Medicines Optimisation team supports the CDAO in relation to controlled drug incidents and destruction. 

The team respond to queries and incidents regarding controlled drugs and work with NHS England to maintain the incident log. We also follow up the incidents to ensure that patient safety is maintained in all situations.  If we identify any trends in the controlled drug incidents we will take appropriate action, for example, sharing the incident and possible solutions with other care providers.  We will also work with other organisations such as the General Pharmaceutical Council local inspectors if we have any particular concerns. 

Authorised by the CDAO, our team provides witnessing of controlled drug destruction in GP practices and community pharmacies. Our team also provides training and resources for larger pharmacy companies who are required to provide authorised witnesses of controlled drug destruction. 

In addition we also:

  • Supply information and support to CDAO at the Local Intelligence Networks (LIN) meetings and follow up any matters arising on their behalf.  The controlled drug LINs provide a forum for the sharing of good practice and the discussion of any concerns involving controlled drugs. 
  • Monitor controlled drug prescribing and support any subsequent investigations. We access and use the data provided on the Information Portal of the Business Services Authority website (www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk) to monitor for any unusual patterns of prescribing and to raise any issues with the CDAO and appropriate members of the LINs.
  • Produce newsletters for circulation to GP practices, community pharmacists, dentists and members of the LINs to raise awareness of any topical issues with regard to controlled drugs.  

We work within a Framework of Governance, with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the services that we provide. These are constantly reviewed and updated.

The outcomes

From the service provided by NHS Arden & GEM CSU, the CDAO can be confident in their responsibility for safe management of controlled drugs, supported by a committed and knowledgeable team.  

"The provision of the service has been essential to the delivery of the outcomes required as the Controlled Drug Accountable Officer and has enabled the Area Team to manage the role over a much larger geographical and more complex landscape in its first year of operation. The team has provided local knowledge and pharmaceutical expertise to take forward legacy issues as well as the implementation of guidance and policies on the safe management of controlled drugs."

Jan Butterworth, CDAO, NHS England Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire Area Team


All organisations involved have appreciated the value of networking and the benefits of sharing good practice.

Next steps

Arden & GEM CSU is currently discussing the future of support for the West Midlands sub regional hub CDAO.


More on this service

Medicines Management and Optimisation