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 adverse medicine administration events in care homes.

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

Piloting Safer Administration of Medicines interventions in care homes across the South West.

Detailed Programme Information

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

The South West AHSN has been testing five interventions to help care homes reduce adverse medicine events, drawn from a national survey in 2019 designed to gather information on making the administration of medicines safer in care homes.  

The opioid prescribing element has begun by examining existing or previous activity aimed at reducing the use of high-dose opioids for non-cancer pain. 

For more information on our Medicine SIP work, please contact our Patient Safety team.

Reducing adverse medicine administration events in care homes

The South West AHSN has been working with a number of care homes across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset to trial and test five pilots or interventions that could help the care homes improve their services, processes, and procedures to reduce adverse medicine administration events.

The care homes chose to focus on one of the following themes and developed practical quality improvement projects which have measured the improvement over time, implementing a ‘test of change’ or ideas that they developed as part of their team huddles.

  • Safety Champions 
  • Safety Team Huddles 
  • Learning from events 
  • Managing Medication-Round Interruptions 
  • Improving communication between GP, care home, and community pharmacy 

Improvements from the pilots will be fed into a national programme, determining their impact and success.

Reducing harm from opioid medicines

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

The 15 PSCs were able to utilise their 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.  

This 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.

Whole systems approach to high-risk opioid prescribing

The national Medicine Safety Improvement team developed and made available a Whole Systems Approach to High-Risk Opioid Prescribing to support local approaches, with shared decision making at the centre, and extending the pathway for prevention. It is intended to be used as a guide for how to approach this work and will continue to evolve over time and through shared learning as systems progress this work across their regions.

Access a step by step guide (login required) on how to implement Whole Systems Approach to High-Risk Opioid Prescribing in your Integrated Care System.

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 will find helpful resources as you set about to design and deliver improvement programmes for people living with chronic pain. The resources include case studies and examples in deprescribing opioids, methods used to identify patients who are at risk of dependence and/or harm from continuing use of opioids, usually strong opioids and interventions designed to maintain the lowest possible opioid use by optimising patient’s ability to manage their pain without medication.

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? 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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