"No insulin for patient on acute ward"

About: Balfour Hospital / General Medicine

(as a carer),

General standard of nursing care we experienced was poor, with a few redeemable exceptions. No insulin available in hospital, it had to be fetched from home – no nitrazepam when required. The patient’s drugs were all taken into hospital with her, then locked away. There was no way the patient could have known when they were running out!

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Response from Julie Tait, Patient Experience Officer, NHS Orkney

I am very sorry to hear that you have had concerns about a recent patient stay in the Balfour Hospital. I hope the following information provides you with some clarity on the stock and dispensing of medicines in our hospital.

There are multiple insulin preparations and formulations available to our hospital pharmacy. The hospital stock the most commonly prescribed insulins as it is not appropriate to keep every type in stock due to the high level of wastage this would result in. It is therefore common practice to ask patients to bring their own insulin into the hospital and the majority of insulin-dependent patients will carry a supply with them.

Nitrazepam is a non-formulary medicine within NHS Orkney which means it is not routinely stocked on wards. We do stock suitable alternatives and these would have been available.

Patients own medicines are routinely kept locked away in individual bedside lockers to ensure their safe custody - this is standard practice across the NHS. A nurse would attend to the patient and administer from the locker and also check if the medication was running low. We don't operate a self-administration scheme on the ward. If the supply of patient's own medicines was running low a further supply could have been requested from the hospital pharmacy department as necessary.

I am very sorry if you were not provided with an explanation as to how patient’s medications were managed in the hospital and that communication was not what you would have expected. We will remind staff of the importance of explaining to patients how their medication will be managed whilst they are a patient in the hospital.

I was also sorry to learn you found the general standard of nursing care to be poor. We would be very happy to discuss this matter with you and the issue of medication and if you feel you wish to do so, please do not hesitate to contact me. My details are as follows:

Julie Tait

Patient Experience Officer

NHS Orkney

Garden House

New Scapa Road


KW15 1BQ

Tel: 01856 888221 email: julietait@nhs.net

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