Most parents will have experienced that terrible moment when their first born child comes home from nursery school with a piece of logo or a Playmobile man tucked into a pocket. Did they put it there by accident or did they steal it? What do you do?
Life doesn’t get less complicated.
Last week I was talking to an NHS manager about fraud in the NHS and we got onto the topic of taking 2 paracetamol out of the drug trolley if you had a headache. Is it theft? Is it only theft if you do it without permission? Is it theft if sister says it’s OK? Or is it just stealing whatever way you look at it?
Some trusts advise wards can keep their own supply of paracetamol for use by staff but this has to be purchased independently at the discretion of the ward sister.
So, even though there is a cupboard full of analgesia, if you have a headache you need to ask someone if they have got a couple pain killers in their hand bag. Wards should also have their own first aid kits for staff to use.
Is this silly? I don’t think it is.
In the past there was a culture that assumed NHS property could be used by NHS staff; the odd paracetamol or bandage wouldn’t be missed. This has been extremely unhelpful. What if it’s not a paracetamol, but ibuprofen or codeine or a replacement for an empty inhaler. Staff need to be clear about what constitutes theft - otherwise they put their job and professional life on the line.
So here are three more dilemmas:
- While you are locking up your bike outside the hospital you cut your finger. Can you nip into the clean utility room and grab a plaster out of the ward supply?
- You miss your tea break at 2am because someone had a cardiac arrest. Can you make a slice of toast using the ward’s supply of bread before you get on with the drug round?
- You discharge 10 patients before lunch and there is loads of food left over on the trolley. Can you put some on one side for your break?
What do you think?