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CD prescription issues: whose responsibility?

NPA Essential

CD prescription issues: whose responsibility?

Providing you with the answers – Leyla Hannbeck, Chief Pharmacist at the NPA, on avoiding CD prescription issues

The NPA often receives queries on Saturdays from pharmacists requesting guidance for dealing with issues arising from prescriptions or requisitions for Controlled Drugs (CDs).These queries usually are made whilst the patient is waiting in the pharmacy to collect their CD prescription.

Tips for avoiding CD prescription issues:

  • Check all prescriptions for CDs as soon as they arrive in the pharmacy to ensure that they are legally valid and on the correct type of prescription form
  • Check whether the prescriber is legally entitled to prescribe CDs
  • If the prescription has any legal requirements missing, is unsigned, is out of date, or is written on the incorrect prescription form, then contact the prescriber and inform the patient or their representative of any action necessary
  • Check all instalment prescriptions, especially ones that cover a bank holiday period, and determine the appropriate date of each prescription to ensure that provision has been made for instalments due when the pharmacy will be closed – and ensure that the patients are aware of when they should collect their instalments.

If any error is typographical and can be amended, the pharmacist can:

  • Confirm that the prescription is genuine and that the prescriber’s intentions are clear
  • Make the amendment in indelible ink
  • Sign and annotate their GPhC/PSNI registration number on the prescription
  • Ensure that if a second pharmacist makes the supply to the patient that they also sign the prescription amendment and include their GPhC/PSNI registration number.


  • No supplies of CDs can be made in advance of the appropriate date as stated on the prescription, under any circumstances
  • Prescriptions for Schedule 1,2, 3 and 4 CDs are valid for 28 days from the appropriate date and any owings have to be collected within the 28 days – ensure that patients with owings for CDs are aware of the date by which they have to collect
  • Private prescriptions for Schedule 2 and 3 CDs must be written on the mandatory form and must be sent off to the relevant organisation for audit purposes at end of month – NHSBSA prescription services / NHS Wales Primary Care Services / Scottish Practitioner Services / Northern Ireland Business Services Organisation
  • If any issues are identified, it is the responsibility of the pharmacist on duty at the time when the prescription is received by the pharmacy to resolve them as soon as possible – do not leave them for another pharmacist to sort out.

This is an extract from a Superintendent Update. NPA members can sign up to receive these at

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