Dozens of boxes of drugs missing

DOZENS of boxes drugs including painkillers, sleeping tablets, anti-anxiety tablets, steroids and anti-sickness injections went missing from pharmacies in the Altnagelvin, Tyrone County and the Erne and South West Acute Hospitals over the past three years, the Sentinel has learned.

But this was a tiny fraction of the total amount of drugs held by the Trust.

A spokesperson told the paper a very small proportion of stock is reported missing annually (less than 0.007 per cent).

But the Sentinel has learned that between November 2009 and October 2010 3.5 boxes of sleeping tablets, 12 boxes of painkillers and 4.5 boxes of anxiolytic (anti-anxiety drugs) went missing from Altnagelvin.

In the first two instances the drugs were recorded missing for one month as part of an investigation and the final amount was able to be accurately qualified.

In the case of the anxiolytics they were recorded missing for over three months as part of an investigation.

In the Erne Hospital during the same period two boxes of anxiolytics, one box of antihistamines and a bottle of steroid tablets for asthma went missing.

The following year between November 2010 and October 2011 one box of anxiolytics, three boxes of anti-sickness injection, 6.5 boxes of painkillers and one box of medication used for thinning blood was reported missing.

During the same period a box and an ampoule of painkillers was reported missing from Tyrone County Hospital and 36 boxes of painkillers disappeared from the Erne Hospital along with 32 boxes of anxiolytics.

And finally over the past year from November 2011 to October 2012 10 painkiller tablets and one sleeping tablet were reported missing from Altnagelvin and one sleeping tablet was reported missing from the new South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen.

A spokesperson for the Western Trust told the Sentinel that drugs were stored in the three Pharmacy Departments within the Trust and are locked in cupboards on wards and in Departments.

A spokesperson explained: “The Trust issued approximately 1.18 million boxes of medicines to hospital users during 2011/12. A very small proportion of the stock is reported missing annually (less than 0.007 per cent).

“The following drugs have been reported missing/ stolen/ unaccounted for over the last three years. This information has been taken from the Trust’s incident reporting system, the reporting of Serious Adverse Incidents and any incident reported to the PSNI or the Business Services Organisation (BSO) Counter Fraud Unit.

“All of these losses have been investigated. Some of these drugs may have been disposed of in error.

“Where theft has been proven, the Trust initiated the appropriate Trust disciplinary procedures and the PSNI were informed.”