Medicines Safety Improvement Programme

The Medicines Safety Improvement Programme (MedSIP) aims to reduce severe avoidable medication related harm by 50% by March 2024 through medicines optimisation and quality improvement.

There are two main focus areas in the programme; reduction in inappropriate high dose opiate prescriptions for non-cancer pain and safer administration of medicines in care homes.


Opioids are a highly effective class of analgesics and, when used judiciously, are of great benefit to many people living with pain. However, in the case of ‘chronic non-cancer pain’, when the source of long-term pain does not have a cause that can be treated, opioids can do more harm than good, particularly when used at higher doses.

The Faculty of Pain Medicine has advised that increasing opioid load above >120mg/day morphine equivalent is unlikely to yield further benefits but exposes the patient to increased harm*

Management of ‘chronic non-cancer pain’ requires personalised care and shared decision making at its core with patients requiring a mixture of biopsychosocial support. A whole system approach is proposed to support people to live well with their ‘chronic non-cancer pain’. We are linking with partners across the Integrated Care System (ICS) to facilitate this.

The AHSN NENC has created a NHS Futures Platform to support the work of the pain Community of Practice. If you would like to be invited to the platform, please contact [email protected] or request an invitation via North East and North Cumbria Pain Community of Practise on the NHS Futures Platform.

Key ambitions of the Programme

The overall aim is to facilitate the identification of priority areas, share intelligence and good practice, learning and resources and support the reduction of overall opioid prescribing.

The NENC region already have numerous initiatives being carried out within the ICS to reduce opioid prescribing and associated risk. The NENC PSC will facilitate a holistic approach to the identification of patients from areas of high deprivation, high health inequalities and/or high opioid prescription rates within the ICS with the aim of reducing overall total patients prescribed an opioid and overall total number of patients on high dose opioids.


OuCh (Opioid Use Change) is a project developed in The Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust which uses an educational video including an element of patient lived experience to be viewed by healthcare professionals and aimed to influence opioid prescribing habits.

CROP (Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing) is a campaign aimed at assisting general practices to review opioid prescribing in primary care. Patient lived experience videos also developed to support the campaign.

Teesside University NIPP Project is an intervention which aims to reduce opioid prescribing in primary care where GP video is sent to patients’ smartphones inviting them to consider reducing/ceasing their opioid use.

All resources relating to this project can be found here:

Pain and Opioid Management Resources

Please view our events area for events related to this subject area. Past events will include presentations and recordings where available.

Care Homes

In 2019 research began by NHS England and NHS Improvement to understand administration of medicines in care homes. As part of this a National e-survey was conducted with 1101 returns received to gather local information and suggestions on how to make administration of medicines safer.

Four secondary drivers were identified as interventions for testing in care homes to contribute to the ambition of safer administration of medicines in care homes:

  • Safety Huddles
  • Learning from Error
  • Managing Interruptions (to the medication administration round)
  • 3-Way Communication (with the GP practice, care home and community pharmacy).

The care home aspect of the programme was undertaken from 1st April 2021 and ended on 31st March 2022. Various care homes within the region took part in the programme which also involved safety culture and safety champion elements.

View care homes report

Contact Helen Seymour, [email protected] or Emily Whales, [email protected] for more information on this programme.