National Programme —

Medicine Safety

Aiming to reduce severe avoidable medication-related harm by 50% by 2024.

A GP receptionist hands over a prescription to a patient at the desk

Aiming to reduce harm from opioid medicines by reducing high-dose prescribing (>120mg oral Morphine equivalent) for non-cancer pain.

Facilitating a collaborative approach within the Devon system.

Championing the inequalities agenda and patient voice.

Detailed Programme Information

Aiming to reduce severe avoidable medication-related harm by 50% by 2024. 

The national NHS England and Improvement Medicines Safety Improvement Programme aims to help patients get the maximum benefit from their medicines and reduce waste with an overarching aim to reduce medication-related harm in health and social care.

The programme, known as MedSIP, is delivered locally by the South West Patient Safety Collaborative. We are focusing on improving the care of people living with non-cancer chronic pain by reducing the prescribing of high-risk opioids (>120mg/day morphine equivalent), for which there is no evidence of efficacy.

Through 2022-23 we will be supporting Devon Integrated Care Board (ICB) to adopt a whole-system approach to reducing harm from opioids. We are bringing together networks, partners, levers and opportunities in the system that can support a culture around the safer prescription of opioids. This will provide opportunities to design and implement local change ideas, facilitate programme implementation, monitor progress, and identify potential resources and opportunities.

Real-world case studies of reducing harm from opioid medicines

In 2021-22, the AHSNs, via the Patient Safety Collaboratives (PSC), were tasked to explore the current real-world interventions within the current COVID-19 environment.

The South West PSC was able to utilise its deeply embedded relationships within their local systems to identify current, past, or paused (due to the pandemic) activity aimed at reducing the use of high dose opiates for chronic non-cancer pain.

The diagnostic phase found 15 real-world interventions in the South West region, including a system-level approach by Kernow CCG, and social prescribing interventions. The case studies included projects from across acute, community, primary care and mental health providers, as well as those delivered by the voluntary sector and patient-led initiatives.

A rapid literature review of published work on interventions designed to reduce inappropriate high dose opiate prescriptions for non-cancer pain was completed by the South West evaluation team. This diagnostic exercise fed into a national report, with findings and recommendations released in late 2021. Download the full report on an analysis of published literature and real-world class case studies from across England: Improving Chronic Pain Management by Reducing Harm from Opioids Report 2021.

Resources for patients and healthcare professionals

We are continually gathering the latest tools and resources to support you to plan improvement projects in order to reduce harm from opioids.

At FutureNHS (login required), you can find helpful resources as you set about to design and deliver improvement programmes for people living with chronic pain, including case studies of deprescribing opioids, methods to identify patients at risk of dependence and/or harm, and interventions designed to maintain lowest possible opioid use.

The national Medicine Safety Improvement team developed and made available a Whole Systems Approach to High-Risk Opioid Prescribing (accessible via FutureNHS) to support local approaches, with shared decision making at the centre, and extending the pathway for prevention.

You can also access a wealth of available resources, case studies and patient stories from the Integrated Care Systems in the South West on the NHS England and NHS Improvement South West website.

Get in touch

Are you a healthcare professional working to reduce harm from opioids, either in Devon, or across the South West or beyond? Our team is here to support you.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact our Clinical team.

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