The national 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 led by NHS England and Improvement’s patient safety team, and delivered locally by the West of England Patient Safety Collaborative.

Programme ambition

Our local delivery will focus on improving the care of people living with non-cancer chronic pain by reducing the prescribing of high risk opioids.


There is no evidence for the efficacy of high dose opioids (>120mg/day morphine equivalent) on long term pain. The Faculty of Pain Medicine has advised that increasing opioid load above this dose is unlikely to yield further benefits but exposes the patient to increased harm. Despite this, Public Health England’s review (2019) shows that in 2017 to 2018, 540,000 adults in England were prescribed opioid pain medicines for 3 years or more.

The effects of COVID-19 are anticipated to have exacerbated the use of opioids for chronic pain, which is linked to both deprivation and the prevalence of mental health conditions such as anxiety.


A whole system approach to reducing harm from opioids has been developed across the AHSN Network to support our local work.

The West of England Patient Safety Collaborative (PSC) will support the system-wide focus on those at risk of becoming dependent, and reducing the risk in those who could be considered dependent, on opioids. A framework has been developed following a national ‘real world’ study of interventions aiming to reduce harm from opioids:

  • Phase one: set-up
  • Phase two: building the ICS picture
  •  Phase three: mapping the ICS picture
  • Phase four: action planning
  • Phase five: managing the Network
  • Phase six: action
  • Phase seven: quality improvement to quality control

The detail of this approach, plus supporting background information, can be accessed through a FutureNHS workspace.

Working together

Our Medicines Safety Steering Group oversees delivery of the MedSIP in the West of England.

The steering group offers a unique opportunity for those working to improve medicines safety across the local healthcare systems to interact and collaborate, and a forum for local improvement and diversity of thought to thrive.

The steering group is made up of representatives from our stakeholders across the West of England region.

Find out more and keep in touch

For more information, please contact Senior Project Manager, Christopher Learoyd.

Read more about our regional projects to support medicines optimisation.

Please visit our events listings to find details of patient safety events.

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