Personal issue morphine: are you covered?

Yellow kit bag

Our Medicine Management Group would like to provide some reassurance to paramedics about their personal issue supplied of injectable morphine sulphate.

Paramedics are lawfully allowed to possess and administer morphine sulphate injection of strengths no greater than 20mg per ampoule, but there is no legal restriction on the number of ampoules a paramedic possesses, providing it’s lawfully justified.

As you’ll know, at EEAST we only possess the morphine injection in a 10mg/1ml preparation strength. The Trust recommends that no more than 15 ampoules should be carried by any individual paramedic in cases where you restock direct from a pharmacy, because pharmacies issue morphine in a minimum box size of 10. If you restock from an approved ambulance station and are issued morphine by a local manager, you’ll be issued a maximum of five ampoules.

Please make sure you maintain a minimum stock level of 2x10mg ampoules at all times.

The legal side

The authorisation to possess, supply, and offer to supply comes from an amendment to the UK Misuse of Drugs Legislation by means of a ‘group authority’ issued by the Secretary of State (Home Secretary). This group authority is contained within The Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. It covers diazepam and morphine sulphate injection (maximum 20mg strength) for the purposes of their administration for the immediate necessary treatment of sick or injured people.

These documents can be found in full at:

Storing and transferring morphine at home

This ‘group authority’ also authorises registered paramedics to maintain privately owned, individual stocks of morphine that is bought from an independent pharmacy, providing it’s stored in a suitable location at home in an appropriately locked container.

It must be lawful for them to possess this stock, so if challenged paramedics must be able to justify why they have it, produce adequate records associated with their stock, and show it is for the immediate necessary treatment of sick or injured persons and no other use.

The guidance covers all paramedics, i.e. as such it does not differentiate between private and public sector paramedics but views all HCPC paramedics as a single group.

Guidance for paramedics at EEAST on storing morphine at home:

  • If the Trust requires you to travel, or are voluntarily working at varying locations, i.e. on relief travelling to different sites, and it’s not practical for you to collect your morphine from your base station on route, you may with lawful justification store your personal stock of morphine in an appropriately      locked container at your home address prior to commencement of your duties.
  • If you’re travelling between different locations in order to carry out your duties you may transport your personal stock of morphine in your own vehicle, providing it is secured in an appropriately locked container and is kept out of sight, i.e. in the boot. However, stocks of morphine should not be left in      unattended vehicles overnight. 

However as soon as practically possible, you should make reasonable efforts to return  your stock of morphine to your base station safe when you are off duty for protracted periods of time, i.e. if you’re going to be on leave or rest days for a period before your next shift.

Please remember that you as the individual are responsible for the stock, storage and transport of your morphine at all times. It should be locked away at all times other than when on duty or for the appropriate use in treating patients. The key to the locked container should be secured, by you, at all times.

If you have any further question, please speak to your line manager in the first instance. 

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