Medicines Optimisation

Between 30% and 50% of the 15 million patients living with a long term condition are estimated not to take medicines as expected.

The AHSN NENC Medicines Optimisation programme, which was first launched in 2013, 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.

The initial phase of the programme has focussed on a number of projects aimed at supporting patients taking medicines in a variety of settings, including

  • Clinical Handover – Each acute hospital in the region has access to refer patients on discharge to their chosen local community pharmacy for continued support with their medicines using existing NHS services. Early indicators show positive benefits. Future plans are to explore the use of electronic referrals with specific clinical conditions. A BMJ open paper has been published which indicates that patients who attend follow appointments with community pharmacists are less likely to be readmitted to hospital
  • Supporting Vulnerable Adults – A scoping exercise was undertaken across the region which has shown a high level of variation in pharmacist led medication reviews and varying amounts of resources dedicated to this work across the CCGs. The purpose of the exercise was to highlight the geographical variation of a service that has been proven to be beneficial in both patient health outcomes and financially
  • A Person Centred Approach to Medicines Adherence – developing a consistent approach to assessing the type of compliance support required.

Future Plans

In June 2018 the AHSN NENC joined forces with NHS North of England Commissioning Support (NECS) to re-launch the programme. With NECS taking an enhanced leadership role, the initiative will benefit from its engaged network of local, regional and national Medicines Optimisation groups including local primary care prescribing networks, Senior Pharmacy Managers Network, pharmaceutical networks and various advisory groups.

Initially the programme will focus on supporting national initiatives across 4 key areas:

  • Roll out of PINCER Pharmacist-led information technology intervention for reducing clinically important errors in general practice prescribing (PINCER)
  • Identifying and addressing inappropriate polypharmacy
  • Improving clinical handover to community pharmacy
  • Engaging patients and the public in Medicines Optimisation work.

To find out more about the Medicines Optimisation programme please contact Janette Stephenson [email protected]

Our Programmes


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…

Reduce Opioid Prescribing

The AHSN NENC has funded a project to evaluate the impact of an educational video on opioid prescribing. The overall aim of this project was to reduce opioid prescribing in the region. Opioid Prescribing 6% of all hospital admission relate…

Electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD)

The AHSN NENC is supporting a regional initiative coordinated by NHS England and Improvement Regional Office and The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) to increase the use of Electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD) in suitable patients as part of the COVID-19…


PINCER is the Pharmacist-led Information technology iNtervention for the reduction of Clinically important ERrors in medicines management. The AHSN NENC is supporting PINCER in the region by helping patients get the maximum benefit from their medicines whilst reducing the risk…

Transfer of Care Around Medicines


The AHSN NENC is aware that many trusts nationally are considering the use of the Transfer of Care Around Medicines (TCAM) project to support effective early discharge of patients during the COVID-19 crisis. What is Transfer of Care Around Medicines?…

CROP – The Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing

Through implementation of The Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing (CROP) project the AHSN NENC aimed to assist general practices across the North East and North Cumbria with reducing opioid prescribing, improving patient care and safety across the region. Opioid Prescribing…

Medicines Adherence Support Project


This report is a summary of a 2-year investigation into the use of Multicompartment ComplianceAids (MCAs) in England. Within the report you will learn that hundreds of thousands of patients are inappropriately supplied these devices by pharmacies and pharmacists each…