29 November 2023
We are delighted to launch this ‘Polypharmacy Action Learning Set: Five Year Synopsis’ report which showcases the Polypharmacy Action Learning Set model, its development journey and current national rollout by the Health Innovation Network (formerly the AHSN Network).
The learning sets are an evidenced-based education approach to upskill primary care professionals in addressing problematic or unnecessary polypharmacy in their patients.
In 2018, the Health Foundation published a small study looking at safer prescribing for frailty patients using the STOPP/START tool in Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group. At the time, Health Innovation Wessex had a vibrant Polypharmacy Group who had worked with the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) to develop the NHSBSA Polypharmacy Prescribing Comparators.
The group recognised that the training gaps related to stopping medicines in primary care were significant and this small Health Foundation project provided the founding idea of developing a training programme to grow prescribers’ confidence to stop medicines safely, especially in older people.
Three pharmacists (Clare Howard, Zoe Girdis and Steve Williams) and a GP (Dr Lawrence Brad) developed a training offer aimed at GPs to:
In 2018, the first cohort was piloted in Southampton with GPs and a very small number of clinical pharmacists. This became the first Polypharmacy Action Learning Set, with subsequent cohorts independently evaluated by the Health Foundation. This showed that the Action Learning Set approach delivered significant improvements, leading Health Education England South to commission Health Innovation Wessex to deliver further cohorts across the South of England, which in turn led to national scaling through the Health Innovation Network Polypharmacy programme in 2022.
As of November 2023, 638 delegates across England have participated in the Polypharmacy Action Learning Sets. Our ambition is to increase this number to 1,000 by March 2024.
Celebrating five years of Polypharmacy Action Learning Sets
GPs, pharmacists and geriatricians from across the country gathered at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in London on Thursday 23 November to celebrate five years since the launch of the Polypharmacy Action Learning Sets.
At the celebration event we launched our ‘state of the nation’ report, showcasing the learning from our Action Learning Sets and providing recommendations for change.
The event also featured posters created by Action Learning Set delegates on a wide range of quality improvement (QI) projects they have undertaken to address problematic polypharmacy in their workplace to drive and accelerate changes in practice.
Take a look at the Polypharmacy QI posters here.
Find out more
Read more about the Wessex medicines optimisation programme where the Polypharmacy Action Learning Sets began.