jpar_2016_8_8_408_415_Paramedics and medicines: legal considerations

The Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee (JRCALC) recognise the complexity of the topic of legal considerations for medicines, and commissioned this article in support of its established clinical guidelines.

We are very grateful to Ed England, Pharmacy Advisor to JRCALC and South Central Ambulance Service for the time given to author this work.

Its intention is to assist all involved— paramedics, pharmacists, employers and governing bodies—to better interpret these complexities.

The article covers:

  • The relevant legislation relating to medicines and ambulance services
  • The restrictions that apply to different organisations or individuals regarding the possession of medicines
  • Regulations on the administration and supply of medicines
  • Patient Group Directions and Patient Specific Directions.
  • The law in relation to the possession of medicines, administration to patients and the supply of medicines is separate.
  • This article also provides guidance to ambulance services and ambulance clinicians on available options to ensure good patient access to medicines in England. The laws described also apply in Scotland and Wales but there are some different national processes. The law both enables and restricts access to medicines. However, it does require interpretation and a pharmacist can help with this. Where interpretation is contentious then organisations may obtain a legal opinion. Legal opinions can also differ, and can only be resolved in court.

Ed England
Medicines and Research Manager, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
Pharmacy Advisor, East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Email for correspondence:

The full article is available here.