Forward-thinking new partnership to optimise use of medicines in patient care

The Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) has joined forces with NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS) to drive forward a pioneering initiative designed to improve medicine usage and health outcomes for patients across the region.

The Medicines Optimisation (MO) Programme, which was first launched in 2013 by the AHSN NENC, will benefit from specialist NECS support, resource and expertise. It will provide strategic leadership across the North East and North Cumbria system to further develop, deliver and evaluate the programme.

Between 30% and 50% of the 15 million patients living with a long-term condition are estimated not to take medicines as expected and the MO programme aims to ensure patients receive support to take their medicines both in the community and after leaving hospital. It is dedicated to the NHS triple aim of improving patient outcomes, maintaining quality and safety of care and ensuring value for money.

With NECS taking an enhanced leadership role, the initiative will benefit from its engaged network of local, regional and national MO groups including local primary care prescribing networks, Senior Pharmacy Managers Network, pharmaceutical networks and various advisory groups.

The appointed team will provide specialised advice relating to the safe, rational and effective use of medicines in compliance with legislation and risk management procedures.

It will be led by Janette Stephenson, former Head of Medicines Optimisation and currently Senior Clinical Services Manager with NECS. Janette Stephenson, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the AHSN NENC and our key stakeholders to lead the Medicines Optimisation programme and work with the system to drive and deliver patient safety and effective patient outcomes.

“The person-centred approach is at the heart of everything we do. Our experience in the field of primary care means we’re ideally placed to work with local partners involved in the prescribing and supply of medicines who we know are a regular and trusted point of contact for patients.

“Medicines Optimisation is evolving across the country and it’s important we work collaboratively with our partners on a national, regional and local level to bring together expertise and share best practice to improve the use of medicines.”

NECS will work closely with the AHSN NENC to deliver four key national Medicines Optimisation programmes on a local level, including the GP auditing software PINCER; Polypharmacy, which is the use of multiple medicines often affecting older adults; Clinical Handover to provide continued support to patients after they have been discharged from hospital and Patient Engagement.

Julia Newton, Medical Director of AHSN NENC, said: “NECS has been actively involved in the Medicines Optimisation programme since it started, and it is with great pleasure that we welcome Janette and her team on board to drive forward the programme.

“We are excited about the direction MO is moving in and these new developments follow an extensive review of the programme to date. “Fundamentally, medicines are the most common therapeutic intervention we have in healthcare. It is our commitment to the people of the North East and North Cumbria that they receive a consistent, safe and cost effective approach to their care, which is why we continually review, develop and improve the MO programme on an ongoing basis.”

The Medicines Optimisations programme is a collaborative vehicle directed by a steering group which incorporates members including Patients, Academia, Industry, Pharmacy, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Foundation Trusts, General Practice (GPs) and North of England Commissioning Support (NECS).