The Academic Health Science Network North East North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) is supporting the delivery of a National Polypharmacy Programme: Getting the Balance Right in partnership with the NENC Integrated Care System (ICS), the national programme to support conversations about medicines between health professionals and the public.

Polypharmacy Community Practice Pillars


Pillar 1: Population Health Management: Using data (NHS BSA Polypharmacy Comparators) to identify patients for prioritisation for a Structured Medication review.

Pillar 2: Education & Training: Running local Polypharmacy training for the primary care workforce to support stopping unnecessary medicines.

Pillar 3: Public Facing Interventions: Testing patient information developed to support conversations about medicines.

The AHSN NENC has established a Community of Practice in the NENC ICS to:

  • Support the delivery of the AHSN National Polypharmacy Programme: Getting the Balance Right
  • Foster a culture of engagement, collaboration, learning and innovation to reduce problematic polypharmacy for our population most at risk from harm
  • Improve use of resources and reduce duplication

Join the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) Polypharmacy Community of Practice (CoP) on the NHS Futures page.

To drive and accelerate changes in practice, quality improvement projects to address problematic polypharmacy have been shared and collated in a poster repository hosted by Wessex Academic Health Science Network: Polypharmacy QI Posters (wessexahsn.org.uk)

If you have any queries regarding Polypharmacy please contact Emily Whales [email protected]

The projects detailed below were successful in a project call for PolyPharmacy projects. More details about the successful projects can also be found in our Medicines Optimisation brochure.

Download the Medicines Optimisation brochure

PolyPharmacy projects

De-prescribing in Primary Care Getting Started

Despite a wide variety of validated de-prescribing tools being available for use in clinical practice, active de-prescribing in primary care is generally accepted to be low. Feedback from clinicians working in this setting expressed uncertainty about where to start with developing their de-prescribing practice.

The project aimed to work with clinicians across primary and secondary care to co-design tools to support de-prescribing within general practices.

A full report of the project can be downloaded:

Download De-prescribing in Primary Care Report

The full set of ‘Are your medicines working for you’ resources can be found here.


Polypharmacy Education in DDES & N. Durham CCGs

North Durham & DDES Joint M.O. Team, Rachel Berry

1st April 2019 – 31st Jan 2020

The Joint MO Team is proposing to develop and deliver a programme of education to upskill primary care prescribers and practice based pharmacists regarding de-prescribing in key therapeutic areas (cardiovascular, falls, pain, kidneys).

Training slide set:

**All information is up to date as of the end of December 2019, guidance is subject to change. When using after this date, please ensure that the most up to date guidance is used**

1. Introduction to Managing Polypharmacy, and De-prescribing in Cardiovascular Disease

2. De-prescribing in Patients at risk of Acute Kidney Injury

3. De-prescribing in Persistent, Non-Cancer Pain

4. De-prescribing in Patients at risk of Falls


What is the impact of educational interventions on the prescribing of hypnotics at NTW FT?

The aim of the project was to create multi-professional, system-wide educational resources, which can be used as interventions to improve knowledge of sleep and sleep disorder management.

Successful project outcomes include:

  • 41% reduction in the number of administrations of hypnotics across the intervention period
  • 29% reduction in the number of patients with active hypnotic prescriptions
  • Identification of significant areas for improvement, both locally and nationally
  • Significant cultural change in prescribing practices, including a more holistic patient assessment and investigation, and wider use of appropriate non-pharmacological interventions.
  • Three supportive interventions have been produced: a poster, a video and a handbook (links provided)

This work also feeds into the wider Trust Sleep Well Programme, which aims to implement other holistic interventions such as lighting and estates.

Download the Sleep Handbook

Download Hypnotics Poster

Download the Smarter Sleep Interventions Paper


Reducing antibiotic prescribing through community pharmacy provision

CNE Local Professional Network, Mike Maguire

To test the feasibility of reducing antibiotic prescribing in general practice using the local community pharmacies. Practice receptionists will refer patients who request antibiotics by telephone to community pharmacists for CRP testing, the results of which will inform the consideration of treatment.

View case study



A ‘World Cafe’ approach to address the inappropriate prescribing of intravenous antibiotics in futile clinical scenarios

Northumbria Healthcare Trust & Newcastle University, Tanya Miah

1st May 2019 – 30 April 2020

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust and the School of Pharmacy at Newcastle University researchers will work together to develop, implement and test ‘Antibiotic Cafes’ with the aim of discussing key clinical issues relating to the prescribing of IVA at the end of life. Healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, pharmacists and HCPs with an interest in antimicrobial stewardship) and students will be invited to attend the ‘Antibiotic Cafe’.

Antibiotic World Cafe Report

Antibiotic World Cafe Flash Cards

Antibiotic World Cafe Presentation – Joseph Brayson


Optimising the management of COPD exacerbations in primary care

North West, North Tyneside Primary Care Network and NHS Business Services Authority. Paul Davies

1st October 2019 – 31st March 2020

Despite the availability of local and national guidance regarding the management of COPD exacerbations in primary care, prescribing patterns vary between practices.

Practices with high prescribing rates of rescue medication for COPD will be identified via the NHS BSA respiratory dashboard; they will then be offered individualised support using Quality Improvement methodology.

There is further useful information on our respiratory page.

View final report


Polypharmacy: supporting the pharmacist workforce event

The AHSN NENC also held an event to showcase the six projects funded through the AHSN NENC Polypharmacy Project Call and shared project outputs together with the resource toolkit developed on completion of each project. More information can be found on the Polypharmacy: supporting the pharmacist workforce event page.