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Toolkit to improve prescribing by doctors wins patient safety award

By News team

An e-learning toolkit which helps foundation year doctors learn how to prescribe safely has won the Improving Safety in Medicines Management category at the Patient Safety Awards 2013 (see panel for other highly commended projects).

The Standard Computerised Revalidation Instrument for Prescribing and Therapeutics (SCRIPT) programme comprises 40 e-learning modules, which support newly qualified doctors to become safer and more effective prescribers.

It was developed in response to the General Medical Council’s EQUIP study and the local Health Education West Midlands study indicating that many newly qualified doctors were poorly prepared for prescribing.

Commissioned by Health Education West Midlands, the initiative involves specialists and academics from Heath Education West Midlands, Aston Pharmacy School, Warwick Medical School, West Midlands Trusts and the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham.

The project team – which includes clinical pharmacists and pharmacologists from local trusts – began work in 2010 (PJ Online, 19 October, 2010) after winning the tender from Health Education West Midlands to develop a prescribing device for foundation (F1) trainees.

Today, 1,200 foundation trainees in the West Midlands are using the system, which has also been taken up by Health Education East of England, East Midlands, and is being trialled by a number of other organisations and the team has had enquiries from overseas.

Elizabeth Hughes, director of education & quality and West Midlands regional postgraduate dean, said: “The development of SCRIPT represents a significant contribution to patient safety through improving knowledge of prescribing for both medical and non-medical prescribers alike.”

Commenting on the future of the system, John Marriott, professor of clinical pharmacy at the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at University of Birmingham, said: “We are constantly reviewing and updating the system to include new legislation and drug information, and we’ve just launched a module on dementia-friendly prescribing – which is endorsed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. We’re also developing a similar system for dental students and, following interest from independent prescribing groups, we’re working on developing a specific variant that addresses their needs.

“It’s quite a coup to win this award for an inter-disciplinary interaction project, which proves the worth of being in the mix when it comes to a medical environment.”

Emma Graham-Clarke, consultant pharmacist, Critical Care at Birmingham City Hospital, and a member of the project steering group, added: “The feedback from the junior doctors has been positive, and the fact that a number of different areas and Health Education organisations and Trusts nationally want to adopt the package, I think this speaks for itself.”

For more details about the SCRIPT training tool, visit

Two other prescribing projects were highly commended in the Improving Safety in Medicines Management category at the Patient Safety Awards 2013, which are organised by the Nursing Times and the Health Service Journal:

Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS FT: Quality improvement through pharmacist prescribing of cancer chemotherapy

The trust identified and resolved shortcomings in the organisation of haemato-oncology clinics, which highlighted the inefficient use of consultants and potential for prescribing error.

HMP Isle of Wight NHS Trust: Safer Management of Medication in Prison

A range of initiatives was introduced under the trust’s ‘Medication Matters’ banner in partnership with healthcare and prison staff.

The other finalists in the category were:

  • Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS FT: Hospital discharge medicines: providing GPs with more information
  • Derby Hospitals NHS FT: Implementing electronic prescribing for patient safety and efficiency
  • Edge Hill Health Centre in partnership with Interface Clinical Services: Improving patient safety: a whole-system, self-funding, partnership approach
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS FT: A hospital-wide medicines management improvement programme to reduce medication errors
  • Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust: Reducing missed doses project
  • North Bristol NHS Trust: Improving medicines reconciliation on admission
  • South East Essex PCT: Safe use of insulin across local health economy

In the Patient Safety in Primary Care category, another pharmacy-led initiative was also a finalist.

East and South East England Specialist Pharmacy Services: Improving medicines safety for patients prescribed NSAIDs in primary care

Working with local commissioners and prescribers, it targeted the existing national Medicine Use Review service provided by community pharmacists to patients prescribed NSAIDs. Assessment of the service demonstrated major safety improvements 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11123399

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