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Correctional Services explains breaking the law to deliver medication to inmates

Published:Monday | January 6, 2014 | 1:17 PM

The Department of Correctional Services has sought to explain why it has been breaking the law by allowing pharmacy technicians to dispense drugs in the penal system as opposed to a pharmacist.

Yesterday, The Sunday Gleaner reported that pharmacy technicians and correctional officers with limited training have been filling inmates' prescriptions and dispensing the medication stored at the Lockett Avenue offices of the Department of Correctional Services.

In a release from the National Security Ministry this morning the prison authority sought to explain.

According to the Department of Correctional Services, for nearly 20 years there has been no established post for a pharmacist in the system.

The Department says over the years it has been asking for the post to be established.

It says the last request was made in January 2013, when it wrote the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

The request was for permission to employ three pharmacists on a sessional basis.

The Department says efforts are now underway to resolve the issue regarding the absence of a pharmacist in the correctional system.

It says in August 2013, the Finance Ministry granted permission to hire the pharmacists and advertisements were placed inviting applications.

The Department of Corrections says six applications were received, and the applicants will be interviewed this week.

According to the department it is extremely difficult to attract the professionals because of the salary scales in the government service.

However, the Department of Correctional Services is making every effort to have the situation resolved in the shortest possible time.

At present, medication to inmates is dispensed to the institutions based on prescriptions written by medical doctors at the correctional facilities.

The Department has conceded that a pharmacy technician and a registered nurse fill the prescriptions which are then checked off and recorded by inventory clerks.

However, it says a Consultant Medical Officer has been overseeing this process.

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