AMBULANCE staff throw away unused drugs worth £100,000 every year while some are carrying around out-of-date medication, a report shows.

Bosses at the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust said out-of-date drugs posed no clinical risk to patients because of the rigorous checks paramedics carry out before they administer any medicines.

Ambulance crews carry painkillers as well as clot-busting drugs and adrenaline for patients who have had a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

How controlled drugs are stored and monitored was discussed at a recent board meeting along with a plan for medicine management.

Bosses think it will be possible to cut drug waste and costs by reducing the amount of medication carried by paramedics and removing the personal bags carried by each paramedic in favour of a vehicle bag shared between them.

Chief executive Anthony Marsh said: “I would think there was £100,000 wasted on drugs. There will always be drugs that go out of date in the way other parts of the NHS incur those costs. Paramedics are well trained and it is always drummed into them to perform the key checks before they administer the drugs.”

Work is already under way for station managers to monitor staff to make sure they follow the rules when it comes to handling controlled drugs.

The medicines management plan includes: l Making sure all medications are securely locked away at all times, with all ambulances and other vehicles used by ambulance staff having an approved safe.

l Introducing extra training to ensure drug use is properly documented.

l Setting up CCTV and a swipe card system for storerooms so paramedics can get to drugs more easily and quickly rather than having to sign them in and out manually.

Ambulance chiefs were not able to confirm what proportion of the drugs was wasted but insisted it was a small proportion of the overall spend on controlled drugs and less than 0.1 per cent of their £150 million annual budget.

The report shows a “deterioration in compliance” with how drugs are stored in the last quarter of the financial year, which is why the action plan has been drawn up.

Director of service delivery Barry Thurston said: “We are also halving the amount of drugs in circulation so instead of both paramedics carrying morphine, there will only be one paramedic carrying morphine. A lot of measures being introduced at the start of the financial year will make sure we’re not carrying out-of-date drugs.”

Your Worcester News was the only member of the media to attend the meeting.