Medicines optimisation and adherence

Giving medication is the most common intervention in clinical practice, with total drugs spent for the NHS being around £13 billion per year. The financial stresses and the increasing demands on health services make it urgent for the NHS to improve productivity and innovation, especially in respect of medicines.

There are many problems with medication use in practice, including:

  • patients have insufficient information about their medicines, while there is an expectation that they should share in making decisions about their treatment
  • medication errors and adverse drug events are relatively common across all sectors and age groups
  • avoidable wastage on medicines may exceed £150 million per year in the NHS.

There has been substantial investment in improving the use of medicines in the NHS. This has enhanced education and training, introduced and fostered non-medical prescribing, led to digitisation of health care systems, involved pharmacists in clinical practice, and strengthened the regulation and governance of prescribing. However, uptake of innovation and translation of positive research findings into practice remains patchy in practice. The WMAHSN therefore wishes to build capacity and infrastructure to improve prescribing safety and rational therapeutics across the region. We propose specific workstreams related to expertise, development and investment in the six core themes and strong alignments with the existing and emerging regional structures, to support the five domains of the NHS outcomes framework.

The medicines optimisation theme embraces the wider concept of rational therapeutics and the related medicines optimisation in some of the work, as this relates to improving quality, outcomes and value for patients and the NHS from the use of medicines. It shares the AHSN’s strategic goals to rapidly spread innovation and good practice, align healthcare delivery, teaching, education and training, and drive the use of advanced technology in healthcare.

The Clinical Lead is Dr Jamie Coleman, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology and Medical Education from the University of Birmingham. The WMAHSN Business Manager for medicines optimisation is Lucy Chatwin.


In the longer term, we will work with partners across the region to agree priorities for improving medicines optimisation and adherence, to raise the profile of examples of innovation, and to develop new ways of improving quality, effectiveness and efficiency of medicines in the West Midlands. 

To discuss the drug safety and medicines optimisation clinical priority, contact Lucy Chatwin at or call 0121 371 8061.

Opportunity for innovations 

The WMAHSN has an ongoing opportunity for innovations, where potential partners are offered the chance to come up with new ways of solving local health and social care challenges. We are interested to hear from industrial, healthcare, academic and third sector partners who feel they can work with us on potential innovative solutions, models and technologies that address the challenges faced by local health and social care. Click here to see the medicines optimisation and adherence opportunity for innovations, or to take part in the 2015 opportunities for innovations process, please complete the innovation proposal review form and return it to If you have any queries, please contact Lucy Chatwin on 0121 371 8061 or

To view all of the 2015 opportunities, please go to our opportunities for innovations page.