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Coronavirus: Home secretary urged to do more to relax drug rules to help ease end-of-life suffering

The government is under pressure to go further on measures to relax rules on powerful painkillers such as morphine to prevent patients suffering “unnecessary pain and distress in the last days of their lives”.

On Tuesday the health secretary, Matt Hancock, announced staff in care homes and hospices would be allowed to “re-use” controlled drugs such as morphine and midazolam, with medication prescribed for one patient used for another where there is an immediate need.

But the Home Office today confirmed to The Independent that it had no plans to extend the rules to the care of patients in their own homes – a restriction experts and charities have warned could leave people suffering at the end of their lives.

The government announced the changes following concerns over the supply of drugs. 

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) welcomed the changes announced by Mr Hancock, calling them “a significant step forward”, but added: “This only applies to patients living in care home and hospice settings, so there is still work to be done to ensure patients living in their own homes have appropriate access to necessary medication in a timely way.”

Last week the RCGP wrote to home secretary Priti Patel warning that people were suffering unnecessarily due to problems accessing drugs.

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Source: The Independent, 30 April 2020


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